Wine review – Thorn Clarke, Mount Majura and W. Gisselbrecht

Thorn Clarke Barossa Shotfire Quartage 2012 $20–$252
The Clarke family owns about 270 hectares of vines spread around the Barossa – a remarkable estate that grew from Cheryl Clarke’s (nee Thorn) very old family holdings. The wines offer plenty of flavour for their modest asking prices. We could call them comfort wines, just as we have comfort foods. Quartage – a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, petit verdot and merlot – has an inky black, crimson-rimmed colour. The palate is impressively sweet fruited, with the leafy, herbal edge that comes with the cabernet varieties. The finish is very dry and firm, though not hard.

Mount Majura Vineyard Canberra District Touriga 2013 $27
After success with the Spanish varieties tempranillo and graciano, winemaker Frank van de Loo decided to have a shot at Portugal’s touriga. He writes, “we have seen tantalising glimpses of touriga from the Surveyor’s Hill vineyard locally, and were intrigued by the potential for earthy flavours and floral notes”. Van de Loo blended away the small 2009–2012 touriga harvests, but finally bottled some in the excellent 2013 vintage – and what an intriguing wine it is. The aroma is floral, earthy, spicy and peppery. The light-to-medium-bodied palate is alive with berry fruit, seasoned with spice, herb and pepper-like flavours.

W. Gisselbrecht Alsace Riesling 2009 $16.99
This Costco import shows all too clearly why cork should never be let near delicate, aromatic white wines. We’ve tried several bottles of this Alsace riesling. The best have been pretty good, while others have been flattened by oxidation (a result of cork failure) and another spoiled by trichloroanisole, or cork taint. At its best, it’s a full-flavoured riesling, in the distinctive Alsace style, enhanced by bottle age. At its worst, it’s undrinkable; and in between, it’s, well, in between. The message for wine drinkers: expect bottle variation. The message for Costco: on behalf of your customers, lean on your suppliers for screw caps as Australian retailers do.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2014
First published 20 July 2014 in the Canberra Times

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