Wine review — Penley Estate, Rochford & Madfish

Penley Estate Coonawarra Phoenix Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 $19.99
At last year’s Limestone Coast Show, Singapore based writer, Ch’ng Poh Tiong awarded Phoenix the International Judge’s Trophy as his favoured wine of the show. Together with James Halliday, we’d ranked it at the top of the small 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon class, noting its vibrant, sweet, fruity aroma and juicy, fleshy, drink-now palate. Waxing metaphorical at the trophy presentation, Poh Tiong praised its ‘smouldering-ember smoky’ character – fitting for a wine named Phoenix, I suppose. With or without metaphors, it’s simply delicious and made specifically for early drinking. It’s available now at cellar door (08 8736 3211) and fine wine retail outlets.

Rochford Latitude Victoria Chardonnay 2003 & Pinot Noir 2003 $17 to $19
These are stunningly good wines at the price. At three years the Yarra Valley Chardonnay has a delicious crackling freshness to it and a combination of pure, stone-fruit varietal flavour with funky barrel-aged character. The pinot noir – a blend of Macedon and Yarra Valley material – is the best under-$20 Aussie pinot I’ve tried. Like the chardonnay, it’s bright, limpid and fresh with a core of pure varietal fruit flavour. It also captures pinot’s lovely, sweet perfume and soft, fine tannins. And there’s a satisfying savouriness and subtle background of toasty oak. Available at fine wine outlets and cellar door — or 03 5962 2119.

Madfish Western Australia Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2005 $13 to $18
Madfish is the amazingly popular budget label of Howard Park, one of the west’s most in-form wineries. From the outstanding 2005 vintage, this white combines near equal parts of sauvignon blanc and semillon from Margaret River, Great Southern and Pemberton. The lightness, zippy freshness and herbal notes of sauvignon blanc set the tone while semillon adds backbone and mid-palate richness to a wine that’s all about high quality, pure fruit and happy summer refreshment. It’s good value at $18, but occasionally hits the discount bins at $13 or $14 a bottle.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2006 & 2007