Wine review — De Bortoli Yarra Valley & Bream Creek Tasmania

De Bortoli Yarra Valley Sauvignon 2006 $22
If one wine displays – deliciously — the fruit muting underway at DeBortoli Yarra Valley, it’s sauvignon blanc. They’ve even pruned the name to ‘sauvignon’, indicating that’s something’s up. And what’s up begins with low yields in the vineyard, hand picking, gentle handling and spontaneous fermentation (i.e. no cultured yeast added) in old oak barrels. Instead of the more customary brash, bright and pungent cold-fermented sauvignon blanc, De Bortoli’s — while still refreshing, juicy and unmistakably sauvignon — is more subtle. It’s like a varietal echo, muffled by a textural richness and secondary flavours derived from barrel fermentation and maturation, lees contact and yeast tag-team behind the ferment. Released October.

De Bortoli Yarra Valley Reserve Release Syrah 2004 $35 – $38
Few reds pulse and ripple across the palate like this sensational 2004. It’s opulent, silky, velvety, plush, juicy, utterly compelling, seductive and irresistible. What’s behind it? The great fruit of low yielding, mature vines (planted 1971); hand picking; hand elimination of all but perfect grape bunches; a high level of whole-bunches in the ferment (equals brighter fruit and gentler tannin extraction); and maturation in well-matched oak barrels. If you’re looking for something really special, this is as good an investment in pure drinking pleasure as you’ll find. This is one of the most exciting wines I’ve tried in years.

Bream Creek Tasmania Riesling 2004 $18 & Tasmania Pinot Noir 2004 $25
Located to the east of Hobart, near Marion Bay, Bream Creek, established 1972, is one of Australia’s southernmost vineyards. It produces wines of a finely sculpted, delicate style, dictated by the truly cool growing climate. In the riesling that means a structure and flavour more akin to those of Mosel, Germany, than our renowned Clare Valley styles. It’s simply delicious – packed with flavour but fragile and delicate at the same time. Similarly, the pinot noir may look pale but it overflows with varietal perfume and flavour, albeit in a very refined and subtle way — the sort of wine that slips down almost before you realise how good it is. See

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2006 & 2007