Wine review — Petaluma, Mount Horrocks & Illuminati

Petaluma Coonawarra 2004 $45-$60
As the last of the outstanding 2002 Petaluma Coonawarra sells out, along comes the 2004. So where’s the 2003? Winemaker Andrew Hardy says, ‘we have decided not to release the 2003 Coonawarra as it is still too immature and tightly bound and will benefit from some prolonged cellaring. We will release this small vintage some years down the track’. No problems with the 2004, product of a strange, but ultimately. very good vintage. A blend of 65 per cent cabernet sauvignon and 35 per cent merlot, this is elegant, limpid Coonawarra – built on fine, ripe berry flavours and firm tannins that’ll see it through many, many years in the cellar.

Mount Horrocks Watervale Semillon 2006 $27
As semillon-sauvignon blancs blends roar ahead, poor old semillon languishes as a stand-along variety – despite its long and, at times, popular and distinguished history in Australia. To see how good semillon can be, try Stephanie Toole’s 2006 Mount Horrocks from the Clare Valley’s Watervale sub-district. It’s full-flavoured, but delicate – with the fine, smooth texture and delicious, subtle flavour add-ons derived from fermentation in oak and subsequent maturation therein on spent yeast cells. If you want something that’s not chardonnay, not riesling, not sauvignon blanc and not boring try Stephanie’s beguiling drop. It’ll click all your hyperlinks. See www.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ‘Riparosso’ (Illuminati) 2004 $8 to $11
Just to show that Australia doesn’t have a monopoly on value, here’s a savoury favourite from Italy that offers terrific value. I confess to having sourced Riparosso for Farmer Bros in 1991 and, after their demise, introducing it to the Coles Myer group (now Coles Group, but subject about to be taken over) in 1995. They continue to offer Riparosso through Vintage Cellars, Liquorland and First Choice. It’s made in Abruzzi, on the Adriatic coast by the Illuminati family using the local Montepulciano grape. Family patriarch, Dino, elevated this variety to new heights and now his son, Stefano, continues to fine-tune Riparosso. The modern version has a core of bright fruit, delivered in typically, dry, savoury, Italian tannins.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2007