Wine review – Four Winds, Bit O Heaven, Angullong, Ross Hill, West Cape Howe

Four Winds Vineyard Shiraz 2015 – wine of the week
Four Winds, Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW
$30

Graeme and Suzanne Lunney planted Four Winds vineyard in 1998 during a period of rapid wine industry expansion, driven by Hardys’ arrival in Canberra. Two daughters and their husbands now run the business: Sarah and John Collingwood manage marketing and viticulture respectively, while Jaime and Bill Crowe make the wines. Their 2015 shiraz shows all the beauty of the Canberra style in an exceptional vintage. Fragrant and alluring, it drips with vivid, ripe-berry and -spice flavours on an elegant, medium-bodied palate, featuring fine but assertive tannins that harmonise with the sweetness of the fruit.

Four Winds Vineyard Sangiovese 2015
Four Winds, Murrumbateman, Tumblong Estate, Gundagai, NSW

$30

Owner Sarah Collingwood writes, “We are aiming for all of our grapes to be estate grown and we are in the process of grafting over some of our merlot to achieve this”. In the meantime, sangiovese from Gundagai complements the estate-grown stuff in an impressive local shot at this Italian variety. It’s a shade paler in colour than the shiraz reviewed today, but that’s normal for sangiovese. Bright, fresh, sour-cherry-like fruit flavours give the wine life and instant appeal. Typically for sangiovese, quite strong tannins encase the fruit creating a tasty arm-wrestle between the sweetness of the fruit and the savour, grip and dryness of the tannins.

Bit O Heaven Wines Think Outside the Circle Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Coolbagh and Charlies blocks, Hilltops, NSW
$25

Brian Mullany’s obscure Bit O Heaven wine drew attention to itself last year when it won gold medals in the Canberra Regional Wine Show and then the National Wine Show of Australia. Mullany, a partner in the better-known Grove Estate, owns with other family members a separate vineyard between Wombat and Young. These provide grapes for the Bit O Heaven wines, made by Wine Insights which recently relocated winemaking from Griffith to Cudal, near Orange. This is juicy, elegant cabernet, balancing pure, youthful berry flavours with the variety’s assertive tannins. Available at jugiongcellars.com.

Angullong Crossing Reserve Shiraz 2013
Angullong vineyards, Orange Region, NSW

$48
The Crossing family dedicated the company’s new flagship red to their father, Bill Crossing, who died suddenly in October 2015. It’s made from a parcel of grapes from a single block on the family’s extensive holdings. Ben Crossing writes, “Year on year, this particular block produces grapes with more character, balance and concentration of flavour”. In the exceptional 2013 vintage, that translates to a more powerful shiraz than we’d normally expect from the cool Orange region. Deep, sweet, spicy, fruit flavours are backed by strong, savoury tannins derived both from the grape and maturation in oak barrels.

Ross Hill Pinnacle Series Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Home block, Griffin Road vineyard, Orange, NSW

$30
Ross Hill continues today’s run excellent wines from the western slopes of the Great Divide, southern NSW. Orange’s high altitude vineyards (750-metres in this instance) produced intense, clear varietal flavours in the sauvignon blanc grape, albeit if not with the same exuberance as those from Marlborough, New Zealand. Spontaneous fermentation with wild yeasts produced a wine of clear but subtle sauvignon character – herbal but not pungent, with a soft, round palate and delicious, chalky dry finish. It shows that sauvignon, like all grape varieties, enjoys a spectrum of styles for adventurous palates to explore.

West Cape Howe Chardonnay 2015
Western Australia
$15.20–$17
Sauvignon blanc, led by the New Zealanders, remains Australia’s favourite white wine. However, Australian winemakers grow and make more chardonnay than they do sauvignon blanc. The best are fermented and matured in oak barrels and are notably fuller bodied than sauvignon blanc. Winemaker Gavin Berry takes West Cape Howe down another path, with minimal oak input and maximum vibrant tropical fruit flavours. It’ll appeal as much to sauvy drinkers as it will to chardonnay lovers.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2016
First published 22 June 2016 in the Canberra Times and CT app

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