Campbells Classic Muscat $44 500ml
Rutherglen’s unique, luscious muscats come in four categories – Rutherglen, Classic, Grand and Rare – each representing a step up in age, richness and complexity. Campbell’s basic version, luscious with raisened muscat grapes flavours, sells for less than $20. But it’s worth stepping up to “Classic”. It’s slightly darker in colour, slightly more olive green at the rim and notably more luscious. It also has the patina of age – a complex of aromas and flavours described by the Spanish as “rancio” – a sniff and a sip brings enlightenment
Grosset Gaia 2009 $57–62
Grosset Gaia Vineyard, Clare Valley, South Australia
Gently, reminding us that nothing’s new, Jeffrey Grosset writes, “While there is an international ‘natural’ wine movement, many great winemakers who believe they are already making natural wine have chosen not to jump on the ‘natural’ bandwagon. For decades now, every Grosset wine has been made with such precision and attention to detail, that the need for fining has been avoided…in the absence of any chemical additives or finings, is it possible to refer to Grosset wines as anything but natural”. Grosset’s latest cabernet sauvignon-cabernet franc blend from his Gaia vineyard offers limpid, brilliant colour, pure varietal fragrance and flavour and a firm, fine tannic backbone.
Kangarilla Road Sangiovese 2010 $19–$22
McLaren Vale, South Australia
Vintage 2010 got off to a hot start before heavy rain arrived in December. In many areas, parched vines slurped up the water, causing berries to swell, thus diluting the fruit flavours. The vintage produced good reds, but with fruit flavours falling into the background, the tannins tended to be accentuated. In Kangarilla Road, that means an even more tannic than usual sangiovese. But they’re earthy, savoury, mouth-drying tannins, and good company with char-grilled meats, white and red. The protein in the meat mollifies the tannins, emphasising the varietal sweet and sour ripe cherry flavour.
Deakin Estate Shiraz 2010 $7.59–$10
Murray Darling, Northwest Victoria
Australia’s initial global success with wine rested on inexpensive, clean, bright, fresh, fruity, varietally labelled reds and whites. Shiraz led the red charge. To some extent we became typecast as makers of cheap wine, presenting problems for makers of premium products. But the great majority of the world’s wine drinkers favour cheaper wines, like this terrific Deakin Estate shiraz. It ticks all of the boxes above – but appears slightly more savoury, tannic and food friendly than the plumper, rounder wines of a decade ago.
Rymill mc2 2010 $18–$20
Rymill Vineyard, Coonawarra, South Australia
We’ve enjoyed a little rush of very good under-$20 Coonawarra reds, made for early drinking and each with its own style – the standouts to date being Majella The Musician and Wynns Green Label Cabernet Sauvignon. Rymill’s up there, too, with this solid but elegant blend of cabernets sauvignon and franc with merlot. Coonawarra’s unique, bright berry flavours lurk under the surface of a juicy yet firmly tannic red. It’s built for rare lamb. Made in Rymill’s showpiece winery by Sandrine Gimon.
Howard Park Porongurup Riesling 2011 $32–$35
Porongurup, Great Southern, Western Australia
At a latitude between 34 and 35 south and with little elevation, Porongurup (near Albany, Western Australia) might appear too warm for riesling. But sitting on the coastal fringe, vines benefit from the cold ocean breezes pushing in against the hot breath of the continent. The dry, warm 2011 vintage (completely opposite to the east coast experience) produced a floral, rich riesling with intense lemon-like varietal flavour and bone-dry, refreshingly acidic finish. Winemaker Janice McDonald says it’s “the finest cut of free juice from two of the oldest vineyard plantings in the Porongurup sub-region”.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 20112
First published 28 March 2012 in The Canberra Times
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