Wine review — Bay of Fires, Majura Vineyard & Pewsey Vale

Bay of Fires Tasmania Pinot Gris 2005 $27
Bay of Fires is the premium Tasmanian brand of The Hardy Wine Company, made in Tasmania by Fran Austin. Fran’s pinot gris – sourced from the Coal River Valley near Hobart and from the Tamar River, north of Launceston – possesses some of the underlying textural richness experienced in Alsacian pinot gris. This boosts the body of what is otherwise a particularly fragrant and exceptionally lively and delicate pinot gris. My only quibble is that it’s pretty alcoholic at 14 per cent and this gives the wine a slightly distracting heat and astringency in the finish.

Majura Vineyards Canberra District Pinot Gris 2005 $16
Local vigneron, Frank van de Loo says on his back label, “we pick our pinot gris when the berries have taken on a deep purple-pink colour as they develop the rich, musky flavours that make the variety so appealing”. That’s an honest summary of one of the biggest, juiciest wines in this week’s pinot gris tasting. But it’s not just big and ripe. There’s a wonderful intensity to what I saw as pear-like fruit flavour, as well as vibrancy and freshness. As in the Bay of Fires wine above, alcohol weighs a little too heavily on the finish.

Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Pinot Gris 2005 $22.95
Pewsey Vale is both a brand and a vineyard within the S. Smith & Son group (aka Yalumba) controlled by Robert Hill-Smith. The vineyard, located on the elevated slopes of the Eden Valley — a short drive from the Barossa winery — produces all of the fruit for the brand, including what was clearly outstanding fruit for this wine, my favourite of this week’s line up. Made by Louisa Rose, it delivers the variety’s silky richness without becoming fat or coarse. It has a lively acidity that seems to carry the fresh fruit flavour and, at the same time, provide a fine, firm backbone.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2006 & 2007