Wine review — Henschke, Centennial Vineyards, Veritas, Rolf Binder, Riposte and Kirrihill

Henschke Mount Edelstone 2009 $95–$125
Mount Edelstone vineyard, Eden Valley, South Australia

Ronald Angas planted the Mount Edelstone vineyard in 1912 using cuttings from shiraz vines imported from France by James Busby in the early 1830s. The Henschke family made the first Mount Edelstone in 1952 – a line winemaker Stephen Henschke continues while wife Prue tends the venerable old vines. It’s a real jaw dropper – buoyant, elegant shiraz showing the Eden Valley’s distinctive spicy fruit flavour, with a hint of liquorice, and silk-smooth tannins. The wine has been released under both screw cap and Vino Lok, the glass stopper with a silicon o-ring providing the airtight seal.

Centennial Vineyards Blanc de Blancs NV Brut $29.69–$34.99
Centennial vineyards, Bowral, Southern Highland, NSW

Most bubblies emulating France’s Champagne style combine chardonnay with the red variety pinot noir and sometimes pinot meunier. The pinots add backbone and, in the case of meunier, flesh to the blend. Exceptional chardonnay, however, can stand on its own as it does in Centennial’s beautiful blanc de blancs – the trophy winner at this year’s Canberra regional show. The very cool climate delivers high-acid grapes with intense grapefruit-like varietal flavour – a lean, austere combination that transforms to a delicious, rich elegance after three and a half years’ bottle age.

Veritas Winery Bulls Blood Shiraz Mataro Pressings 2008 $45
Marananga and Dorrien, Barossa Valley, South Australia

The late Rolf Heinrich Binder created Veritas Bull’s Blood in the 1960s, but discovered the magic of old-vine mataro (aka mourvedre) only in the 1980s, says his son Rolf. Thereafter it became the key to this 65 per cent shiraz, 35 per cent mataro blend. Binder says he inherited his father’s love of mataro in Bull’s Blood and makes it “with his voice in my ears”. Binder’s potent blend combines generous, ripe shiraz with mataro’s intense, earthy, spicy character and sturdy tannins – and a sympathetic lick of oak. It’s a unique, big but balanced and satisfying wine style.

Rolf Binder Heinrich Shiraz Mataro Grenache 2009 $32
Barossa Valley, South Australia

Brother and sister Rolf Binder and Christa Deans created Heinrich, named for their father, Rolf Heinrich Binder, in 2001. It provides a soft and aromatic contrast to the sturdy Bull’s Blood shiraz-mataro reviewed today. Binder and Deans say they source about 150 per cent of the fruit they need for Bull’s Blood, but allocate the more aromatic fruit to Heinrich – then add about 20 per cent grenache to boost its perfume. Alongside Bull’s Blood, Heinrich shows its grenache aroma and bright, juicy, soft and spicy palate.

Riposte by Tim Knappstein The Sabre Pinot Noir 2010 $30
Adelaide Hills, South Australia

Tim Knappstein’s 2010 Sabre pinot seems more tightly coiled than the more voluptuous 2009. But the delicious fruit flavour’s there, meshed in with layers of smooth tannins that give structure to the elegant palate. Knappstein sources fruit from Lenswood and the Piccadilly Valley, two of the cooler parts of the Adelaide Hills – part of the Mount Lofty Ranges that rise near McLaren Valley, to the south, and form the Eden and Clare Valleys to the north.

Kirrihill Single Vineyard Series Riesling 2012 $16.15–$19
Slate Creek vineyard, Watervale, Clare Valley, South Australia

The run of delicious Clare Valley 2012 rieslings continues with this single-vineyard wine, made by Donna Stephens.  It comes from the Slate Creek vineyard at Watervale, towards the southern end of the Clare Valley. Consistent with other Watervale rieslings from the vintage, the wine shows generous, upfront floral and lime character. Such generosity in young rieslings sometimes indicates rapid flavour development – and equally rapid decline. But the 2012s balance the rich flavours with lively acid, indicating the best may develop for some years.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 21 November 2012 in The Canberra Times

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