Wine review — Cumulus, Fox Creek & Eileen Hardy

Cumulus Wine Climbing Orange Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 $19.99
At last year’s Orange District wine show judges James Halliday, Celine Rousseau and I pushed this wine to the top of the cabernet class – meaning a trophy as well as a gold medal. Away from the sip-and-spit pressure of a wine show and six months on, the wine still looks good. It has well-defined varietal aroma and flavour with typically firm, drying tannins. And there’s a richness to the mid palate that’s often lacking in cabernets from inland regions. My only quibble is that the tannins are a wee bit tough – something you won’t notice over a good steak. Great value.

Fox Creek McLaren Vale Short Row Shiraz 2004 $28
As the 2004 vintage approached, one winemaker told me of the ‘wall of fruit’ awaiting harvest. He had misgivings because big crops sometimes mean lower quality. There was much crop thinning in an effort to concentrate flavour. But even then most areas enjoyed a big harvest. With the dust long settled on what is now generally seen as a terrific vintage, we can enjoy wines like this generous, soft, Fox Creek Shiraz. It’s sourced mainly from the ‘Short Row’ block near the winery, they say, and expresses the Vale’s generous flavours, soft tannins and appealing, savoury edge. See

Eileen Hardy Chardonnay 2005 $50 to $55
Hardy’s flagship white parallels Australia’s chardonnay history. It began in 1986 as a fairly big, short-lived, oaky white sourced from Padthaway, at the time probably the coolest region growing appreciable volumes of chardonnay. It was typical of wines of the time and one of the leading examples, too. Eileen’s sourcing followed the best chardonnay plantings, heading further south and to higher altitudes in the ensuing years to mature as a fine, potentially long-lived style this decade. The current release, a Tumbarumba-Tasmania blend, has — in its intense, delicious fruit flavours, complex barrel-related complexities and taut structure – more than an echo of the great French white Burgundies on which it is modelled.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2007