Lustau Manzanilla Papirusa Sherry 375ml $14.99
Manzanilla, the palest, most delicate of the flor fino sherry family, comes from the Spanish seaside town of Sanlucar de Barameda. The humid environment encourages an extra thickness in the film of yeast cells (flor) on the surface of the sherry maturing in barrels. While this layer contributes distinctive ‘sherry’ character, the extra thickness protects the wine from air and accounts for the dazzling freshness of good Manzanilla – like this one. There’s a slight salty tang, a subtle, pungent ‘sherry’ note and a bone-dry, delicate, mouth-watering finish. At just 15.5 per cent alcohol it’s a superb aperitif and pairs well with savoury food.
d’Arenberg McLaren Vale The Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne 2006 $20, The Money Spider Roussanne 2006 $20
d’Arenberg, The Vale’s master of the Rhône Valley red varieties grenache, shiraz and mourvedre, some years back turned its hand, with equal panache, to the white varieties, marsanne, viognier and roussanne. The novel (in Australia) addition of marsanne to viognier seems to mollify the overt apricot-like character of viognier – though it remains the dominant flavour – to produce a distinctive vibrant, full and silky dry white style. The shyer Roussanne, too, is silky smooth but delivers less in-your-face fruitiness. The stone-fruit-like flavour is subtle and more-ish and deliciously crisp and refreshing. There’s a wealth of info on these unique styles at www.darenberg.com.au
Richmond Grove Watervale Riesling 2005 $14 to $18
In recent Chateau Shanahan tastings the 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002 and 2005 vintages of this extraordinary wine have impressed for delicious lime-like varietal flavour. And the older wines – under screw cap from 1998 – show that wonderful honeyed overlay of age. The 2005, already with four gold medals, shows all the class of this distinguished Watervale (southern Clare Valley) line and is surely one of Australia’s great wine bargains. Orlando Group White Winemaker, Rebekah Richardson, tells me it’s a blend of the best Watervale material of each vintage, as assessed by the Orlando team. That team, incidentally, includes veteran John Vickery, a key figure in the development of modern Australian riesling.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2007