Wine review – Ten Minutes by Tractor, Lerida Estate, Yalumba, Krinklewood and Veuve Fourny

Ten Minutes by Tractor McCutcheon Pinot Noir 2012 $75
McCutcheon Vineyard, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
A group of us tasted McCutcheon pinot alongside three contrasting styles –Lerida Estate Cullerin Canberra District 2013 ($35, also reviewed today), Tout Pres by Farr Geelong 2011 ($110) and Hurley Vineyard Garamond Mornington Peninsula 2012 ($75). The wines all rated well with the group. But the McCutcheon finally towered above all but Tout Pres by Farr (a story for another day). It delivered all the aromatic, ripe, sappy, juicy character of this great grape variety – backed by the firm tannins to see it through many years in bottle. The intense colour and flavour noted by the winemakers at harvest comes through in the final wine. They attribute this intensity, in part, to the “longest ever veraison–harvest interval (70 days vs 57 day average)”.

Lerida Estate Cullerin Pinot Noir 2013 $35
Lerida Estate, Lake George, Canberra District, NSW
At our little masked tasting of pinots, Lerida, from the warmer 2013 vintage, immediately stood out from the 2012s, both from Mornington Peninsula and both around double the price. It showed the bright, fresh, strawberry-like aromas and flavours of very young pinot, medium body and dry, tightly structured but soft finish. The eight tasters rated it highly, albeit with a caveat from some about whether it might take on more of pinot’s savoury character with bottle age. Time will tell. But it’s a good pinot and to me rates a silver medal score.

Lerida Estate Chardonnay 2012 $24.50
Lerida Estate, Lake George, Canberra District, NSW
In another masked tasting, eight of us compared three very different chardonnays: Lerida 2012, Shaw and Smith M3 Adelaide Hill 2013 and Ten Minutes by Tractor McCutcheon 2012. Each represented a distinct style – respectively, lean and austere with assertive winemaker inputs; elegant, pure and varietal with fruit on centre stage; and voluptuous – a celebration of fruit, oak and winemaker inputs. The tasters enjoyed all three styles. We saw Lerida as Chablis-like in its lean, acidic structure, but not in its flavour. At present the sulphide compounds, which season many barrel-matured chardonnays, stand out against the grapefruit-like varietal flavour. However, this is all in a tasty, teasing sort of way. Lerida’s Jim Lumbers remains confident the fruit will blossom with time.

Yalumba Patchwork Shiraz 2012 $18–$22
Barossa Valley, South Australia
Patchwork shiraz brings together fruit from nine Barossa-floor sub-regions: Stockwell, Ebenezer, Light Pass, Seppeltsfield, Kalimna, Krondorf, Vine Vale, Marananga and Greenock. These are names well known to Barossa winemakers but only now coming before the drinking public, albeit slowly. These cover the east, north and west of the valley, but not the south, nor the higher cooler, Eden Valley (part of the Barossa zone) to the east. From the valley floor we expect, and get in Patchwork, a ripe, robust wine, suggesting juicy black cherries. The tannins are soft but savoury and the flavour is enhanced by very clever, sympathetic use of several oak types for maturation.

Krinklewood Verdelho 2013 $22
Broke Fordwich, Hunter Valley, NSW
Cuttings of the verdelho vine found their way separately to the east and west of Australia last century, direct from the Island of Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean, about 700 kilometres west of Morocco. Those that found their way to the Hunter likely came from Dr William Redfern’s collection, planted at Campbelltown in 1824. It proved suited to the warm conditions and remains today as an important niche for the valley. The 2013 from the biodynamic Krinklewood vineyard is exceptional – a beautifully pure, highly aromatic wine with a particularly racy, passionfruit-like flavours. Like sauvignon blanc, this is all about fruity refreshment.

Veuve Fourny et Fils Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru Champagne $55–$70
Les Mont-Ferres, Vertus, Champagne region, Franc
Non-vintage Champagne generally combine pinots noir and meunier with chardonnay – drawn from multiple vineyards across France’s very large Champagne region. Veuve Fourny Blanc de Blancs, however, comes only from chardonnay grown on warmer south and south-east slopes of Les Mont-Ferres, near the village of Vertus. It shows the delicate, racy, elegant beauty of the variety ripened under very cool conditions. The winemakers build the richness and texture of the wine by blending in older reserve wines and maturing each batch for 30 months on yeast lees in bottle. The current release contains wine from the 2010 vintage (80 per cent) with the balance from the 2009, 2008 and 2007 seasons.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2014
First published 18 June 2014 in the Canberra Times

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