Wine review — Wynns, Taittinger & d’Arenberg

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz 2004 $11.40 to $22
Wynns is a magnificent, cellaring red prone to bouts of discounting. Hopefully the $11.40 price offered by 1st Choice last week will come around again somewhere in Canberra. Made by Sue Hodder, the 2004 — benefiting from vineyard rejuvenation and a shortening of time in oak — is fragrant, medium bodied and oozing juicy, Coonawarra berry flavours. Shame on Wynns marketers, though, for lacking the courage to roll it out in screw cap. Hiding behind a ‘test the market’ screen, they’ve limited screw-cap stock to Vintage Cellars. That was fine five years ago as the technology emerged. But it’s now both proven and accepted. Restricting distribution merely deprives many drinkers of the best stock available.

Champagne Taittinger Brut Resérve NV $74.95
With a little more chardonnay in the blend than most NV’s (40 per cent versus about 33 – the remainder pinot noir and pinot meunier), good old Taitts is on the light and cheery side of Champagne, albeit with a rich and creamy mid-palate. Served recently at Chateau Shanahan after a bottle of the intense, pinot-driven Lanson 1996, the guest smile-gauge spun crazily. It could’ve been the second bottle phenomenon. But, no, a sober sip says this is a lovely, delicate aperitif style with the lightness of chardonnay and yummy brioche-like nuances of pinot meunier, the lesser of the two pinots, but indispensable nevertheless.

d’Arenberg McLaren Vale d’Arry’s Original Shiraz Grenache 2003 $15 to $20
d’Arry Osborn, father of present d’Arenberg winemaker, Chester, bottled the first of the famous ‘red stripe’ labels in 1959 and in the following two decades made d’Arenberg ‘Burgundy’ an Aussie favourite. The mellow, soft style appealed when young but also aged well for decades – attributes it retained after dropping the French place name, Burgundy, in favour of varietal labelling. The new release is a robust expression of the style with an appealing earthy richness and smoothness plus, being a year older than many new releases, a satisfying red-wine character that comes only with time. The fruit is so delicious that it carries 15 per cent alcohol with ease.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2005 & 2007