Wine review — Petaluma & Stefano Lubiano

Petaluma Hanlin Hill Clare Valley Riesling 2006 $19-$23
Brian Croser fermented Petaluma’s first riesling – a 1976 from Mitchelton Vineyard, Nagambie – in a spent Maralinga rocket-fuel tank. From 1979, having acquired the Hanlin Hill vineyard, Clare Valley, he made the first of the single-vineyard Petaluma rieslings that’ve given the wine its well deserved blue-chip status. At a recent tasting of all the rieslings the oldest and youngest vintages stood out like bookends as if to say, young or old, this is a great wine. The 1979 and 1980 were both wonderfully fresh, albeit with the delicious patina of age. The 2005, the last made by Croser, is a classic. And 2006, Andrew Hardy’s first, is spectacularly aromatic and superb.

Petaluma Coonawarra 2002 $42-$58
2002 was one of the coolest seasons on record in much of eastern Australia. This boosted flavour intensity of reds in our warmer areas but in cool Coonawarra many vineyards seemed to struggle for ripeness – a character reflected in the leafy, not-quite-ripe character of many of the wines. Petaluma, however, achieved ripeness in its tiny crop to produce what to me is one of the finest since the first vintage in 1979. At a tasting of every vintage a few weeks back it appealed for its enormous flavour concentration in the elegant, firm, Coonawarra mould. It’s a classic, destined to give SSsdrinking pleasure for decades to come.

Stefano Lubiana Tasmania ‘Primavera’ Pinot Noir 2005 $29
Steve Lubiana produces two pinot noirs – this floral, abundantly fruity, aptly named Primavera and the more structured, Burgundian Estate Pinot Noir. I’ve not tasted the 2005 vintage of the latter, but it’ll be impressive judging by the power of fruit in Primavera. Steve writes that “2005 was one of the best – if not the best, Tasmanian pinot noir vintages ever”. What this means for the drinker is a wine offering pure ripe-berry aroma and plush, even Beaujolais-like, juicy varietal fruit flavour. But there’s tannin providing structure to all this fruit and a few years in bottle should see a shift from primary fruit to more savoury secondary characters.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2006 & 2007