Wine review — Constable Hershon, Briar Ridge & Kooyong

Constable Hershon Hunter Valley Semillon 2004 $14.80-$18.50
On a recent trip to Newcastle I found several local wines available by the glass at Terminal One Bar + Dine, on the harbour foreshore. The locals apparently know Constable Hershon well. But as this tiny Pokolbin-based winery sells most of its wine at cellar door, and the balance through restaurants, it’s not well known. It’s a delicious drop, in the delicate, slightly austere, low-alcohol Hunter mould. While bottle age adds richness, it’s still trim, taut and bone dry with lime-like varietal flavour and fine acid tang. The lightness and bracing edge made it a refreshing match with a rocket, prosciutto and Parmesan salad. It’s available at

Briar Ridge ‘Stockhausen’ Hunter Valley Shiraz 2006 $29
Briar Ridge, located at Mount View in the lower Hunter, named its flagship red after former Lindemans winemaker, Karl Stockhausen. Karl made his first wines in the area in 1960, has the legendary Lindemans 1970 Chablis to his credit, and today consults to Briar Ridge’s winemaker, Mark Woods. This is a full-bodied style for a Hunter shiraz. But at 13.5 per cent alcohol it’s not in the monster-mould 15 per cent range that we see in many Aussie shirazes. It’s warm and rich and soft and very ripe tasting. But there’s a savouriness and earthiness to it as well. See

Kooyong Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2006 $34-$40
Kooyong’s rise to the front ranks of Australian pinot noir and chardonnay making has been extraordinary. It’s a must-try for pinot lovers and a must-visit if you’re down Mornington way. Along with Port Phillip Estate, it’s owned by the Gjergja family and can be tasted at Port Phillip’s cellar door. It’s been a Chateau Shanahan favourite for a few years now because it delivers the real pinot experience at a modest (for pinot) price. A few weeks back the 2006 compared favourably, in a youthful way, to a glorious, mature 1990 Claude Dugat Gevrey Chambertin (Burgundy) from Rob and Sandy Forbes’ cellar.  It’s available at fine wine stores and cellar door.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2008