Wine review — Turkey Flat, Yalumba, Scorpo Estate, Quartz Hill and d’Arenberg

Turkey Flat Shiraz 2010 $38–$42
Bethany, Stonewell and Koonunga vineyards, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Christie and Peter Schulz say their magnificent 2010 shiraz is based on vines planted at Bethany in 1847 by Johann Fiedler. They compliment fruit from those venerable old vines with material from low-yielding vines at Stonewell and Koonunga. This is perhaps the best shiraz since the Schulz’s made the transition from grape growing to winemaking about 20 years ago. It’s big, and shows the lush ripeness and tender tannins of the Barossa Valley. But it’s so beautifully balanced, and the French oak so complimentary to the fruit flavour and tannin, that it sits lightly on the palate. It’s marvellous to think that vines planted in the wilderness continue to produce beautiful wine 165 years later.

Yalumba Galway Vintage Shiraz 2011 $9.49–$15.95
Barossa Valley, South Australia
Galway shiraz sits a long way stylistically from the Yalumba Galway Claret that raised Bob Menzies’ eyebrows in awe half a century ago. The firmer, more savoury style Menzies loved gave way to this bright, fruity modern style. In the cool 2011 vintage Galway shows the bright, fragrant, musky side of shiraz, both in the aroma and on the soft, juicy, drink-now palate. It’s a regular participant in the retail discount wars, sometimes falling below $10.

Scorpo Estate Pinot Noir 2010 $39.89–45
Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
This is on the big, rich side of pinot – in an elegant, succulent pinot kind of way. Deep, juicy, sweet fruit flavours, reminiscent of black cherry, with notes of beetroot and an earthy, mushroomy note, held our attention to the end of the bottle. The slippery texture and firm, fine backbone of tannin completed an outstanding red that beautifully complimented the duck spring rolls at Lanterne Room, Campbell.

Scorpo Estate Pinot Gris 2011 $33.25–$36
Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
The cold, wet 2011 season devastated many vineyards and in some areas grapes failed to ripen properly even if they escaped the mildew and botrytis. While most wines show the bony character of the vintage, some show exceptional concentration of fruit flavour – like this excellent Mornington Peninsula white. Ambient-yeast fermentation in old oak vessels gives the wine a rich, juicy, smooth texture. And the cool conditions intensified the elusive pear-like varietal flavour, contributing a crisp, fresh acidity to balance the succulent sweetness of the fruit.

Quartz Hill Syrah 2010 $32
Quartz Hill vineyard, Pyrenees, Victoria
What an enormous contrast there is between Quartz Hill Syrah and Turkey Flat Shiraz also reviewed here today, sitting at the opposite ends of Australia’s shiraz spectrum. Quartz Hill’s use of the French ‘Syrah’ salutes the fine-boned elegant styles made in the northern Rhone Valley. It’s a medium bodied red, with a ripe, sweet core of red berry fruit flavours, cut with savoury, varietal black pepper and spice flavours. Very fine, gentle tannins and fresh acidity give the wine structure, subtly augmented by fine French oak. (Available only through quartzhill@optusnet.com.au)

d’Arenberg Dry Dam Riesling 2011 $14.50
McLaren Vale, South Australia
The emergence of so-called semi or half dry riesling is simply a renaming of a style that’s been with us forever. It simply refers to retention of unfermented grape sugar (or in some case adding grape juice back to a dry wine). At very low levels, the sugar fills out the middle palate very pleasantly without adding overt sweetness. In d’Arenberg’s attractive version, residual sugar of 18.3 grams per litre gives a notable sweetness that’s offset – in a tangy, mouth-watering way – by a low pH (2.8) and acidity of 8.3 grams per litre. It accompanies spicy and chilli-hot food particularly well.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 22 August 2012 in The Canberra Times

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