Wine review — Helm, Gallagher & Kamberra

Helm Canberra District Premium Riesling $ $33
Ken Helm’s been talking the riesling talk for decades. Now, deservedly, he’s walking the walk with this stunningly good wine. It’s the product of years of incremental adjustments to a winemaking regime applied to the very best grapes from Al Lustenberger’s fastidiously managed Murrumbateman vineyard. All it took was thirty years’ hard work, fuelled by vision, and a benign 2005 growing season that seems to have brought out the best in the variety. This is a wine with a seriously long future: it has the classic citrus and mineral aromatics and taut, intense, steely-yet-delicate palate of classic riesling. This is a great achievement for Ken and a very significant wine for the Canberra district, too. Cellar door phone number is 6227 5953.

Gallagher Canberra District Riesling 2005 $17
Greg Gallagher’s riesling, sourced from Graeme Shaw’s Murrumbateman vineyard, earned the second gold medal (half a point behind Helms) amongst sixteen 2005 vintage rieslings at the regional show. It’s a delicious drop and quite different in style from Ken’s, with a greater volume of floral aromatics and a rounder, more overtly fruity palate. It also has vibrant, fresh acidity and the delicacy essential in riesling. Canberra benefits greatly from the presence of an experienced, accomplished winemaker like Greg. He not only recognises good fruit but also has the skills and attentiveness necessary to take it all the way to the bottle we drink. The Murrumbateman cellar door is open weekends and public holidays, phone 6227 0555.

Kamberra Canberra District Shiraz 2004 $30
Put this one in your diary and be sure to buy a bottle or two when it’s released. A gold medal and three trophies won at this week’s district show confirm how good it is. But what the gongs don’t convey is what style of wine it is. It’s not one of those inky, oaky Aussie monsters. That’s not what Canberra does. It’s a limpid, seductively fragrant red with a juicy, succulent, silky palate. It’s soft and lovely to drink now. But there’s a layered depth to it that almost certainly ensures good medium to long term cellaring. It’s sourced principally from Andrew McEwin’s vineyard at Murrumbateman (with a few other components including a splash of viognier) and sensitively made by Alex McKay at Kamberra.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2005 & 2007