Wine review — Chateau Pato, Fox Creek & Mount Horrocks

Chateau Pato Hunter DJP Shiraz 2004 $45 & Old Pokolbin Vineyard Shiraz 2004 $29
Chateau Pato, founded by the late David John Paterson and now run by his son, Nick, makes impossibly small batches – 160 dozen and 180 dozen respectively – of these classic Hunter Shiraz styles. The first, bearing David’s initials and from a family vineyard planted in the eighties, has a sweet, earthy aroma and a juicy and very concentrated but typically Hunter soft palate. The other, from an eighty-year-old vineyard, is leaner and tighter in style – slightly reminiscent of Chianti, though softer – with a lovely earthy, savouriness to it. Despite the style contrasts, each is stamped with Hunter earthiness and softness. Cellar door phone 02 4998 7634.

Fox Creek McLaren Vale Shiraz Grenache 2004 $17 & Reserve Shiraz 2004 $70
$70-a-bottle reds are more read about than consumed. But it’s reassuring to screw the caps off a small maker’s flagship and workaday red side by side and discover a credible quality/price ratio. Making good wines across the price spectrum is something Australian winemakers do well. Fox Creek’s $17 shiraz and grenache blend delivers the lovely perfume of the vintage and a really attractive medium-bodied palate for current drinking. In short, you get McLaren Vale richness at a modest price. The Reserve 2004, though, has real gravitas with its immensely powerful, ripe shiraz flavour and structure – a regional specialty to savour slowly.

Mount Horrocks Watervale Semillon 2005 $27
Poor old semillon barely gets a look in on its own these days. Blended with sauvignon blanc it’s going berserk. And in the best of these semillon is the key to complexity. Yet semillon enjoyed great popularity in Australia until generic labels like ‘white burgundy’, based on European place names, began giving way to varietal naming around twenty years ago. Thus hugely popular generically labelled semillons like Basedow of Barossa and Quelltaler of Clare faded from view. Inherently, though, as Stephanie Toole shows with this brilliant Watervale version, it makes a rich, vivacious white with the subtle nutty complexity – but not woodiness – of oak fermentation and maturation.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2006 & 2007