Wine review — Yalumba, Clonakilla & Innocent Bystander

Yalumba Barossa Valley Bush Vine Grenache 2006
Yalumba Eden Valley Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2006 $17.95

They call it grenache in France and Australia and garnacha in Spain. By whatever name, it’s is an interesting red variety, tending to a pale colour and very high sugar levels (and therefore alcohol) when ripe. It’s fragrant and spicy, has soft tannin and is therefore very soft and at home in blends with shiraz and mourvedre. In the Barossa it made superb fortifieds before the current table wine age and, as a consequence, many little stands survive. Yalumba’s captures the perfume, spice and softness of the variety, along with an earthy, savoury edge. Its companion chardonnay is a bright, fresh and funky style of great appeal.

Clonakilla Canberra Shiraz Viognier 2006 $80, Hilltops Shiraz 2006 $28, Canberra Ballinderry 2005 $30
This trio, due for release on September 1, further cements Clonakilla’s place as one of Australia’s great wine estates. Tim Kirk’s Shiraz Viognier – inspired by Rhône Valley winemaker Marcel Guigal – remains the benchmark of this blend in Australia. The 2006 continues the beautifully fragrant, graceful, supple style. With such small production of the flagship, Tim introduced a few years back a second shiraz, sourced from the nearby Hilltops region – a bolder style featuring deep, spicy shiraz flavours with typical Clonakilla silky smoothness. Ballinderry, a cabernets and merlot blend, is the surprise in this year’s release. Was it Tim I heard denouncing Canberra cabernet? He won’t be any more. This one is outstanding – fully ripe but elegant and varietal.

Innocent Bystander Moscato 2007 375ml $13.50
This one’s as pretty to look at as it is pleasant to drink. The quirky label, clear bottle and blush-pink colour look inviting. Flip off the crown seal, pour a lightly frizzante glass and you can smell the enticing, grapey, musk-like sweetness. The distinctive aroma and flavour come from the muscat grape – gordo muscat and black muscat from the Boulton and Burge vineyards on Victoria’s Murray. Picked early, made fresh and at just 5.5 per cent alcohol this is an Aussie interpretation of Asti Moscato, from Italy’s Piemonte region. It’s crisp, fresh, grapey and slightly sweet – a good afternoon pick-me-up or aperitif.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 207