Wine review — Carlei, Majella & Wither Hills

Carlei Green Vineyards Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2005 $29, Heathcote Shiraz 2004 $27 and Upper Goulburn Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 $29
Sergio Carlei sources fruit from various Victorian vineyards, matching grape variety to region – with great individuality from what I’ve tasted to date. The new releases hit the mark again, particularly the chardonnay and shiraz. While the finely structured Yarra chardonnay shows all the complexities of barrel fermentation and maturation, it’s the pure, varietal fruit that really stars. The shiraz is sensational – full bodied, but elegant at the same time, with generous, savoury fragrance, silky, smooth tannins and high natural acidity that focuses the varietal flavour and gives the wine life and lift. The cabernet? – lovely, but upstaged by a few Coonawarras on the tasting bench.

Majella Coonawarra Shiraz 2005 $30, Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 $30 and The Malleea Cabernet Shiraz 2004 $70
These have become Coonawarra benchmarks since Brian ‘Prof’ Lynn and his brother Tony shifted from grape growing to winemaking in the early nineties. The wines are made in a distinctive ripe and robust style with generous, though sympathetic oak treatment – a style partly steered by what the vineyard produces but also carefully thought through by Prof and winemaker Bruce Gregory. The 2005’s show the great ripe, juiciness of the vintage without sacrificing Coonawarra’s deep, sweet berry flavours. The cabernet, in particular, is stunning and destined for a very long cellaring life. The flagship Malleea shows the elegance of the cooler year.

Wither Hills Marlborough Pinot Noir 2004 or 2005 $45-$50
Lion-Nathan-owned Wither Hills, on the cooler, southern side of Marlborough’s Wairau Valley, has developed what I believe are some of the best value-for-money pinots in the world under its founder, Brent Marris. Brent recently left, leaving the reins to his long serving offsider, Ben Glover. Ben had a hand in making both of these delicious wines. And although the richer, riper 2005 replaced the 2004 some time back, both can still be found on retail shelves. The 2004 now shows some sweet, gamy, bottle-age character that’s 100 per cent pinot, while the 2005 still presents more primary varietal fruitiness. Both have the silky depth of good pinot.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2007