Jacob’s Creek Barossa Pearl $12–$15
In his 1992 book The Grapes of Ralph, UK cartoonist Ralph Steadman sketched a matronly, imaginary “Barossa Pearl” presiding over a Barossa soup kitchen. Alas, Orlando Barossa Pearl – once fruity, sweet, vibrant and sparkling – had popped her last bubbles nine years earlier, in 1983. Today’s wine industry owes much to Pearl. Released in 1956, she and similar lightly sparkling “pearl” wines introduced a generation of beer and fortified drinkers to table wine. Resurrected Pearl is made, like the original, from Barossa riesling and semillon grapes. Whether it’ll click with grandchildren of the original drinkers remains to be seen. It’s a blander and sweeter drink than I remember the original being. But that’s a long time ago. And sweet, sparkling wines under various guises remain one of the perennial winners of the Australian wine market.
Majella The Musician Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz $17.10–$20
The Lyn family’s song of fruit, The Musician, provides a floral, juicy expression of cabernet sauvignon and shiraz grapes grown on their eastern Coonawarra vineyard. The wine delivers Coonawarra’s deep, ripe, berry flavours, medium body and elegant structure, without the overlay of oak or other winemaker inputs seen in wines made for cellaring. The 2013 vintage seems even juicier and fruitier than the excellent 2012 reviewed last year and would make an excellent Christmas lunch wine, served slightly chilled.
Leo Buring Eden Valley Dry Riesling 2014 $18–$20
The Leo Buring brand goes back to the first half of last century. But its reputation for fine, long-lived riesling came during the sixties and seventies after Lindemans bought the business following Leo Buring’s death. Winemaker John Vickery, still active today, made all those early Burings, setting a standard still admired and emulated today. Burings now belongs to Treasury Wine Estates and under winemaker Peter Munro, continues to make exceptionally fine rieslings. This version, from the company’s own Eden Valley vineyards, displays floral and citrus varietal character and a generous, finely textured palate. Vibrant acidity gives a juicy, dry, refreshing finish.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2014
First published 7 December 2014 in the Canberra Times