Wine review — Ben Haines, Oxford Landing Estates and Taylors

Ben Haines Warramunda Vineyard Yarra Valley Marsanne 2011 $28
Ben Haines, a young Australian winemaker with international experience – and most recently at Mitchelton and Yering Station wineries, Victoria  – recently launched his own brand. And wow, what wines they are, sourced from Haines’ favoured vineyard sites. His marsanne, from the Warramunda vineyard in the Coldstream Hills sub-region of the Yarra, stunned a few palates at a recent tasting. A gentle vanilla-like aroma (from fermentation and maturation in good French oak) invites the first sip. The palate reveals mouth-watering citrusy flavours, underpinned by barrel-derived textural richness and enlivened by the cool season acidity. (Available through www.benhaineswine.com)

Oxford Landing Estates South Australia Sauvignon Blanc 2012 $5.65–$9
I’m seeing very exciting whites from the 2012 vintage. Like 2011, 2012 was a cool vintage, but produced overall much healthier fruit than the mildew and botrytis-ravaged 2011. The cool conditions produced intense varietal flavours and high natural acidity – a combination that prompted the Oxford Landing winemaker to write, “The varietal expression of our 2012 sauvignon blanc was more typical of cooler climate regions with complex fruit flavours evident early”. The wine comes from the normally hot stretches of the Murray. But in 2012 it offers a zingy fresh palate with delicious, passion fruit-like varietal flavour.

Taylors South Australia Tempranillo 2010 $12.99–$18.95
The label doesn’t reveal the wine’s origins, but it’s a blend of material from the Clare Valley and Wrattonbully (on the Limestone Coast, adjoining Coonawarra’s northern boundary). The cool season produced a light to medium bodied red with bright, delicious fruit flavour, reminiscent of blueberries. The winemakers handled various batches of the wines in different ways, including cold soaking one component on skins before fermentation (producing softer tannins), barrel-fermentation of a second component and using open fermenters for another. The varied approaches produced both fruity and savoury characters and resulted in a very fine, soft tannin structure.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 12 August in The Canberra Times

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