Man O’ War Dreadnought Syrah 2009 $45–$50
Eastern Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Waiheke Island, to the east of Auckland, lies at about the same latitude as Bendigo, Victoria, and Naracoorte (just north of Coonawarra), South Australia. The three regions, though, produce starkly different cool-climate shiraz styles – probably driven by significant climate variances. The flavour alone suggests Waiheke as the coolest site. The intense, white pepper character of Man O’ War syrah (shiraz) suggests very cool ripening conditions – barely warm enough to struggle across the ripening line. But having done so, it’s a glorious example of fine-boned, supple, silky-textured shiraz.
Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz 2010 $16–$19
Padthaway, South Australia
There’s nothing like a masked tasting to strip away the pretence of wine, allowing a modestly priced red like Jip Jip to rate in the Sydney International Top 100 – and earn a “Blue Gold” medal for its compatibility with food. Sourced from the Bryson family’s 170-hectare estate at Padthaway, and made by Ben Riggs, Jip Jip leads with appealing floral high notes. These come through, too, on a delicious fruity, supple, mid-weight, softly tannic palate. It’s a lot of fun to drink right now and should hold for several years.
PHI Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010 $65
Lusatia Park Vineyard, Woori Yallock, Yarra Valley, Victoria
PHI is a joint venture, established in 2005, between Leanne De Bortoli and husband Steve Webber (winemakers) and Stephen and Kate Shelmerdine, grape growers. PHI pinot comes from selected rows of vines on the Shelmerdine’s elevated Lusatia Park vineyard, in the cool south-eastern edge of the Yarra. Webber makes the wine at De Bortoli winery, Yarra Valley. PHI 2010 made history in November 2011 as the first pinot to carry off the wine-of-show award at the National Wine Show. The name PHI means perfect harmony and balance – and the wine delivers it. This is great pinot noir by any measure.
Seville Estate The Barber Pinot Noir 2010 $16.95–$22
Yarra Valley, Victoria
Even the cheapest of Seville Estate’s three pinot noirs rates very highly in the pinot stakes. It’s sourced from “30 year old vines off the original Morgan’s vineyard”, declares the black label. Good winemaking captures the lovely flavours of this fruit in a medium to deep coloured wine of enticing perfume, plush, black cherry varietal flavour, silky texture and fairly firm tannic backbone. We found a little more to like every time we returned to the bottle. It should evolve well with another five or six years bottle age, perhaps longer.
Yalumba Y Series Pinot Grigio 2011 $9.49–$14.95
Multi-regional blend, South Australia
In the great Australian tradition, Yalumba sources grapes widely for its outstanding Y series blends. Pinot grigio sourcing extends in some years to the Barossa and Eden valleys, Limestone Coast, the Adelaide Hills, Northern Adelaide Plains and Riverland. Winemaker Louisa Rose says the cooler areas provide the aromatic high notes and warmer areas body and texture. A wild-yeast ferment also contributes to the texture. She says the 2011 comes mainly from the cooler Limestone Coast, Eden Valley and Adelaide Hills regions – creating a wine with pear-like varietal aromatics and a richly textured, off-dry, savoury palate.
Jeir Creek Viognier 2010 $30
Murrumbateman, Canberra District, New South Wales
Rob and Kay Howell’s cellar-door only viognier captures the variety’s unique, lush, juicy, apricot-like flavours – without descending into the oiliness or hardness that often mars the viognier experience. Rob Howell says he fermented and matured the wine in new French oak barrels. Too much new oak can overwhelm viognier. But in this instance the water-bent oak’s subtle, spicy flavours complement the vibrant, fresh fruit. The wine’s available at the cellar door, Gooda Creek Road, Murrumbateman or at www.jeircreekwines.com.au
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 25 January 2012 in The Canberra Times