Wine review — Balnaves, Bay of Stones and Paxton

Balnaves of Coonawarra The Blend 2011 $19–$20
Coonawarra fared better than many other regions in the cold, wet 2011 vintage. And within Coonawarra, thick-skinned cabernet sauvignon proved more resilient to fungal disease than shiraz did. Balnaves’ blend – comprising mainly cabernet sauvignon, with a little merlot and cabernet franc – captures the region’s fragrant, ripe-berry aromas, rich flavour and fine-boned structure impressively well for a wine at this price. Firm but fine tannins cut through the supple, ripe, berry flavours, giving true cabernet authority. Doug Balnaves established vineyards in 1975. These days, daughter Kirsty Balnaves looks after marketing, son Peter Balnaves tends the vineyards and former Wynns winemaker Pete Bissell, makes the wines.

Bay of Stones South Eastern Australia Chardonnay 2012 $18
Orlando Wines produces the Bay of Stones brand for the on-premise trade. Therefore, you won’t find it in retail outlets. However, if you’re dining in a pub, club or restaurant with a lacklustre wine list, as we did at The Mooring, Tomakin, recently, it’s a very good wine and likely to cost under $20 a bottle. It’s a bright, rich, modern style with clear varietal flavour and smooth texture. Quite likely it’s a cousin or sibling of Jacob’s Creek, one of the world’s best value chardonnays, made in the same Barossa winery.

Paxton McLaren Vale Tempranillo 2011 $20–$25
Paxton’s certified biodynamic tempranillo survived the cold, wet 2011 vintage to produce an attractive dry red for current drinking. The aroma suggests summer berries and spice – pleasant characters that come through on the medium bodied palate. Tempranillo’s tannin, however, keeps the palate lean, tight and savoury, making it good company for protein-rich or savoury food. David Paxton and family sourced the grapes from their Thomas Block and Landcross Farm vineyards. I’ve tasted many Australian tempranillos recently and believe Spain’s most widely grown red variety has an hospitable new home in Australia.

Copyright Chris Shanahan 2013
First published 29 September 2013

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