Wine review — Hanging Rock, Meeting Place & Houghton

Hanging Rock Heathcote Shiraz 2003, about $55
This one’s got class stamped all over it – a wonderful red from one of Australia’s leading shiraz producing regions, stretched along the red-soils-above-Cambrian-bedrock of the Mount Camel Range, Victoria. The label declares an alcohol content of 15 per cent. But there’s nothing heavy about the wine.  The colour’s a brilliant crimson-rimmed red and it’s extraordinarily rich and concentrated yet finely structured. The flavours sit in the ripe, cool-climate spectrum with intense, sweet plummy fruit and a savour note. The deep flavour, elegant structure and great balance all point to good medium to long term cellaring.

Meeting Place Canberra Region Viognier 2004 $15
I recommended this last year prior to release and tasted it again recently. It’s terrific. Sourced from a company-managed vineyard at Holt, it’s a blend of tank-fermented and wild-yeast, oak-fermented components. It’s pure viognier from first sniff to last drop. That means an exotic, heady apricot aroma and flavour and a round, soft, slightly viscous texture. There’s certainly a ‘wow’ factor in full-blown viognier, although food matching can be difficult. So drink it on its own or perhaps as winemaker Alex McKay suggests, with pear and Gorgonzola salad. Made to enjoy now.

Houghton Shiraz 2003 $9 to $12
Houghton is the Western Australian arm of Hardy Wine Company, itself a subsidiary of US owned Constellation brands. With over 1000 hectares of vines under its control in the cooler southerly parts of the West, Houghton offers everything from the sublime depths of its Jack Mann and John Gladstones wines to the delicious, big-value white label range, with a lineage going back 60-odd years. Winemaker Rob Bowen tells me the 2003 shiraz comes principally from Frankland River and Mount Barker regions of Great Southern. This explains the wine’s medium body, tight structure and savoury varietal flavour. Brilliant value, especially on special under $10.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2006 & 2007