Wine review – Hardys, Domain Day, Eden Road, Stella Bella, Moppity Vineyards, West Cape Howe

Hardys Bastard Hill Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2013
Bastard Hill vineyard, Yarra Valley, Victoria
$60

Formerly released under parent company Accolade Wines’ Yarra Burn label, this gorgeous chardonnay comes from a single block of the very cool Bastard Hill vineyard. “At something like 32 degrees it’s a hard hill to work on”, says winemaker Paul Lapsley – a real bastard for worker and tractor alike. The wine combines dazzling fresh nectarine- and grapefruit-like varietal flavours with the subtle structural and flavour influences of fermentation and maturation in oak barrels. It tastes supremely fresh at three years’ age and provides irresistibly good drinking now. However, its vitality, flavour depth and harmony should see delicious flavour development with further bottle ageing.

Domain Day Riesling 2015
Mount Crawford, Barossa Valley, South Australia

$18.05–$22

With Orlando technical director Mark Tummel, Robin Day assembled the first Jacob’s Creek blends in the mid seventies. The label grew from nothing to become one of Australia’s most successful global wine brands, now owned by French company, Pernod Ricard. Day went on to become chief winemaker at Orlando, where he made more riesling than perhaps any other winemaker of his time. He later set up Domain Day. He’s selling up to write a book of travel anecdotes. But we can still enjoy Domain Day wines, including this full-flavoured, fresh, dry citrusy riesling.

Eden Road “The Long Road” Pinot Noir 2014
Maragle and Courabyra vineyards, Tumbarumba, NSW

$24–$28
While Canberra’s specialties remain shiraz and riesling, Murrumbateman’s Eden Road heads down another path altogether. Winemaker Nick Spencer says, “Our top two selling wines by far are pinot noir and pinot gris”. For “The Long Road”, Spencer uses pinot noir from two Tumbarumba vineyards: Maragle, at 405 metres elevation; and Courabyra, located 30 kilometres to the north at 730 metres. The warm 2014 season produced a comparatively generous blend for this cold region, with juicy, delicious underlying varietal flavours, cut through with pleasant “stemmy” notes (from the inclusion of whole bunches in the ferment). Silky texture and fine, soft tannins complete a very drinkable, well-defined pinot.

Stella Bella Sangiovese Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Margaret River, Western Australia

$28.50–$30
Stella Bella’s mouth-watering blend of Tuscany’s sangiovese with Bordeaux’s cabernet emulates a Tuscan style that arose in the 1970s. Thumbing their nose at Chianti regulations, adventurous winemakers mixed cabernet and merlot with the local, approved varieties. Though banned from using the local wine appellation, they succeeded under their own proprietary labels. That they were onto something shows in Stella Bella’s blend. The colour’s pale, but the savoury–fruit aroma appeals instantly. And the palate delivers a delicious combination of savour, bright fruit and sangiovese’s distinctive rustic tannins. One bottle won’t be enough.

Moppity Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Moppity vineyards, Hilltops, NSW
$32

Being slightly warmer than Canberra, the Hilltops region makes slightly fuller, rounder styles of shiraz and fleshier, riper styles of cabernet sauvignon. After a lot of hard work in the vineyard, cabernet is now emerging as a standout variety for Moppity Park’s Jason and Alecia Brown. Their 2014, winner of a trophy and seven gold medals, offers ripe red-currant-like varietal aroma, overlaid with a sweet and spicy oak character. The ripe fruit flavours flow through to a fleshy, medium-bodied palate, cut with fine, firm cabernet and oak tannins. The wine’s good performance the recent Winewise Championships is a reminder of what good cabernet are made in nearby Hilltops region.

West Cape Howe Two Peeps Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2015
Two People’s Bay, Albany, Western Australia
$17–$20
Winemaker Gavin Berry fancies sauvignon blanc and semillon from a couple of vineyards about 15 kilometres east of Albany. One sniff of the wine confirms the sites bring out the pungent, herbal and “canned pea” character of the varieties, distinctive to Western Australia’s cool south. Berry ferments some batches in oak barrels, others in stainless steel tanks. The combination of techniques captures the pungent fruit character of the varieties and adds a pleasing, chewy texture.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2016
First published 6 April 2016 in the Canberra Times

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