Wine review — Mitchell, Shottesbrooke, Andrew Thomas, Oakridge, Greywacke and d’Arenberg

Mitchell Riesling 2012 $19–$22
Mitchell vineyard, Watervale, Clare Valley 2012

At 13 per cent alcohol, Jane and Andrew Mitchell’s wine sits towards the bigger end of the Clare riesling scale. However, it’s intensely flavoured, bone dry, refreshingly acidic and has a rich, fine texture that, from experience of past vintages, builds with bottle age. There’s a complexity to Mitchell riesling that Andrew Mitchell attributes to indigenous yeast fermentation. The Mitchell’s established their winery in 1975, have a capacity to crush about 600 tonnes of grapes (about 42 thousand dozen bottles), and produce consistently outstanding reds and whites from mature vines in their now biodynamically managed vineyards. Their dry-grown riesling vines at Watervale, they say, are now 50 years old, a factor in the intense flavour of the wines they produce.

Shottesbrooke Shiraz 2010 $19–$21
Shottesbrooke vineyard, McLaren Vale, South Australia

Nick Holmes established Shottesbrooke in 1984 and today makes wine from vineyards he either owns or manages. His 2010 shiraz impresses for quality and price. It’s a generous red reflecting the ripe, plummy, savouriness of McLaren Vale shiraz, cut through by quite firm persistent tannins, with a slight bitterness to the finish. The combination of sweet fruit and tight tannins suggests some cellaring potential – and certainly warrants a good splash in a decanter before serving.

Andrew Thomas Six Degrees Semillon 2012 $22
Hunter Valley, New South Wales

Hunter Valley semillon’s a logical candidate for low-alcohol winemaking. The dry versions deliver ripe flavours but often register at around 10–11 per cent alcohol, considerably below the 12–14 per cent we normally see in Australian whites. Arresting the fermentation before the yeasts gobble up all the grape sugar produces wines of even lower alcohol content. In Six Degrees, Andrew Thomas achieves just eight per cent alcohol and a residual sugar of 36 grams per litre. However, the high acidity of the early-picked grapes offsets the sweetness by injecting young semillon’s typical lemony tartness. It’s a delicious combination.

Oakridge Local Vineyard Series Oakridge Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011 $38 Diamond Creek, Seville and Coldstream, Yarra Valley, Victoria
David Bicknell makes a range of pinot noirs for Oakridge featuring various terroirs of the Yarra Valley – in this instance a blend of material from Seville, Diamond Creek and Coldstream. The handpicked fruit was de-stemmed and the whole berries allowed to ferment naturally, disturbed by only one early pump over early in the fermentation. This method captures the very pure, strawberry-like varietal flavours – although the wine, though young, already shows spicy, earthy and savoury characters. The medium bodied palate reflects the aroma and fine but assertive tannins give the wine serious pinot structure and texture.

Greywacke Late Harvest Riesling 2011 $35 375ml
Ashmore vineyard, Fairhall, Wairau Plains, Marlborough, New Zealand

Former Cloudy Bay winemaker Kevin Judd struck out on his own some years back, exploiting his intimate knowledge of Marlborough’s vineyards. Judd aptly describes this sticky as “an exotic, honeysuckle infused liquid marmalade. And indeed a luscious orange-marmalade-like flavour floods the palate, which remains, nevertheless, delicate and refreshing, thanks to the spritely acidity. The 12 per cent alcohol wine retains 120 grams per litre of residual grape sugar.

d’Arenberg The Money Spider Roussanne 2011 $18–$22
McLaren Vale, South Australia

In the mid nineties, the Osborn family, owners of d’Arenberg, planted the Rhone Valley white varieties viognier, marsanne and roussanne. The latter, generally blended with one or both of the other varieties, can stand on its own, as d’Arenberg has demonstrated since 2001, the first vintage. It’s subtler than either of its Rhone siblings, and even in the cold, wet 2011 produced an appealing wine with lemon and honeysuckle flavours and a slightly viscous, smooth, savoury palate.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 28 November 2012 in The Canberra Times

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