Wine review – Four Winds,, Tyrrell’s, St Hallett, Howard Park, Horrock and Curly Flat

Four Winds Sangiovese 2013 $25
Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW
Italy’s sangiovese is gradually carving a niche for itself in Canberra, with several successful wines, including this brilliant new release from Four Winds, Murrumbateman. Winemaker Bill Crow says he tends the property’s 300 sangiovese vines personally. They’re particularly vigorous, he says, and in 2013 he dropped much of the crop on the ground – reducing the yield from an unripen-able 20-tonnes to the hectare to just under nine perfectly ripe tonnes. The small crop produced just 140 dozen bottles. It’s medium bodied wine, showing exuberant, bright fruit flavours, cut through with the variety’s tight, fine, savoury tannins. It drinks deliciously now and may evolve for another few years in bottle.

Tyrrell’s Lost Block Semillon 2013 $16–$20
Lower Hunter Valley, NSW
Tyrrell’s makes many Hunter semillons, ranging from the austere-when-young, long-lived Vat 1 to the softer, juicier Lost Block. But that’s soft and juicy in the unique Hunter semillon context – for this light bodied wine weighs in at a mere 11.5 per cent alcohol, a featherweight by Australian standards. Though light bodied, the wine provides loads of flavour, reminiscent of lemongrass and lemon, with all the vivacity that implies. The price varies considerably, so watch for the retailer specials.

St Hallett Butcher’s Cart Shiraz 2012 $30
Barossa Valley, South Australia
The latest addition to Lion-owned St Hallett’s shiraz line up comes from a range of Barossa Valley sub-regions, including Ebenezer, Stockwell and Marananga. The wine found tonnes of support at a recent tasting of shirazes from Coonawarra, Lucindale (near Coonawarra), Orange, Watervale (southern Clare Valley) and Beechworth. It’s a refined version of Barossa shiraz, in that it’s medium rather than full-bodied. The ripe fruit flavours, plump mid-palate and tender tannins were pure Barossa – a combination that benefited from a subtle use of American oak.

Howard Park Porongurup Riesling 2013$26.80–$34
Porongurup, Great Southern, Western Australia
In 2010, Howard Park added a second riesling to its range from Western Australia’s Great Southern region. We tasted the original vintage at the Denmark winery, where we learned that it comes from a pair of 25-year old vineyards in the Porongurup sub-region – a rocky outcrop in the Albany hinterland. The 2013 offers great purity and intensity, the lemony varietal flavour seemingly strung along the wine’s acidic backbone. This is a very smart and enjoyable riesling with the potential to please for many years if well cellared.

Horrocks Nero d’Avola 2012 $37
Watervale, Clare Valley, South Australia
Winemaker Stephanie Toole says her new nero d’Avola “is the result of first tasting this [Sicilian] variety at Cul de Sac, a wine bar in Rome, in 2003. Further research, including a visit to Sicily in 2005, convinced me that it should be planted in the Clare. So I did”. Toole made just 100 cases. Our red-wine-and-curry group put it to the test recently with spicy food, alongside several shirazes. Following a fruit-juice-like Western Australian shiraz, Mount Horrocks, at first, showed nero d’Avola’s solid, tight tannins. But the appealing ripe-fruit flavours soon pushed through. The lively fruit, a lick of vanillin oak and the savoury, tannic finish proved an enjoyable combination, and well removed from mainstream Australian reds.

Curly Flat Williams Crossing Pinot Noir 2012 $30
Curly Flat vineyard, Macedon Ranges, Victoria
Williams Crossing, Curly Flat’s second label, consistently impresses for its quality to price ratio, and not surprisingly. The Moraghans manage the vineyards and winemaking as if every batch were headed for the $48 Curly Flat label. Individual barrels declassified from that blend go to the Williams Crossing vat – and the quality gap isn’t as great as the price difference suggests. Winemaker Ben Kimmorley writes, “These releases marks a step up for us. Put simply, we have decided to make it harder for a barrel to qualify for Curly Flat. The result is a lift in each wine”. I’ve not tried the 2012 Curly Flat Pinot Noir yet, but this Williams Crossing is outstanding as it offers true pinot aromas and flavours and textures and the fine, firm backbone seen in the best examples of the variety.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2014
First published 21 May 2014 in the Canberra Times

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