Wine review — Tulloch, Taittinger, Shingleback

Tulloch Hunter Valley Private Bin Pokolbin Dry Red Shiraz 2005 $35
There’ll be a stampede at Tullochs when word gets out. This is history in a bottle: made from the 100-plus-year-old vines of the Tallawanta vineyard under a label that left the Tulloch family in 1969 and came back to it in 2001, with the help of Inglewood and Angoves. Hunter veteran, Jay Tulloch, surely sees in this wine a resemblance to the distinctive reds made, under the same label, by his father Hector until his death in 1965. This is pure, beautifully made Hunter shiraz – intensely flavoured, finely structured, silk smooth and elegant. There’s not a rough edge to it – tribute to superb fruit, captured by winemaker Jim Chatto’s mastery of the regional style.

Taittinger Comtes-de-Champagne Blanc-de-Blancs 1998 $180-$240
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne comes from top-ranking chardonnay vineyards in the Côtes-des–Blancs sub region of France’s Champagne district. Its pale colour and racy delicacy – typical of the best all-chardonnay styles – makes it a luxurious aperitif, and one of the best you’ll ever taste. The blanc-de-blancs style (meaning white wine of white grapes) contrasts strongly, however, to the more powerful, traditional Champagnes that combine about fifty to seventy-five per cent of the red varieties, pinot noir and/or pinot meunier, with chardonnay. The rarer blanc-de-noirs – made of one or other or a combination of both red varieties – occasionally show up in Australia.

Shingleback Red Knot McLaren Vale Shiraz $14.95, Shingleback McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004 $24.95
These are two very appealing faces of McLaren Vale shiraz made and grown by brothers Kym and John Davey. Red Knot, sealed with the Australian-designed ‘Zork’ tear-off seal, is the upfront, drink-now, all-fruit version. It’s deep and ripe and soft and juicy, but not savory or complex or red-winey. The more expensive Shingleback shows the depth and class of the 2004 vintage. It’s a complex, satisfying drop built on ripe, soft warm-climate shiraz flavours, with the Vale’s earthy, savory edge and sympathetic, subtle oak characters. Where a glass or two of the Red Knot is enough, Shingleback holds the drinker’s interest to the last drop.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2007