Wine review — Leeuwin Estate, Coldstream Hills & Pirie

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Margaret River Chardonnay 2003 about $90
For around two decades Leeuwin’s Art Series has been the benchmark Australian chardonnay, albeit with a growing number of contenders. From personal experience, it has never disappointed. Indeed, in Langton’s masked classification tastings last year I scored the 2000, 2001 and 2002 vintages, respectively, 18.5, 19 and 18 points out of 20 – and that was lined up with the best Australia has to offer. The just released 2003 was another 19 out of 20 wine at a recent tasting – a superb, if restrained, drop showing all the glories of top-class barrel-fermented and matured chardonnay. The 2003 should continue to drink well for a decade.

Coldstream Hills Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2005 $20 to $26
At a recent masked Chateau Shanahan pinot noir tasting, Coldstream came in second to the $50-a-bottle Wither Hills Pinot reviewed a few weeks back. On a value-for-money basis, then, Coldstream looks the goods, especially if you can twist a retailer’s arm or find it on special. The most reliable of the Aussie, not-too-expensive pinots, Coldstream rises further above the norm in good years like 2005 when sensational fruit seems to lift the texture, structure and complexity to another level. In short, it’s bloody delicious. It’s a real red. It’s a real pinot and it ought to evolve well for another four or five years.

Pirie Tasmania South Riesling 2005 about $22.50
Shocking as it sounds, most of the wine opened at Chateau Shanahan goes down the sink. The ones that really stand out, however, are often invited to dinner, sometimes gracing the table for a night or two. Pirie Riesling 2005 was one of those. It missed a large-scale riesling tasting by days, then, amongst a miscellaneous group of dry whites, stood out for its wonderful delicacy. In the blurb with the sample, winemaker Andrew Pirie rates the 2005 vintage as one of the greats for the West Tamar region. It’s completely irresistible in its own fragrant and refined but intensely flavoured way.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2006 & 2007