Wine review — Deakin Estate, Shaw and Smith, Grumblebone, Chrismont & Margan

Deakin Estate Chardonnay 2007 $10
Deakin Estate Merlot 2006 $10

These are big-value everyday quaffers from Deakin Estate, part of the Wingara Wine Group, whose holdings include Katnook Estate, Coonawarra. The Deakin wines come predominantly from the Mildura region and offer bright, generous, pure fruit flavours. The chardonnay is in the rich warm-climate peachy style but without the fatness we used to see from this region. It’s fresh and zesty and should be enjoyed now because it will fatten up with age. The merlot offers plummy, earthy chocolaty fruit flavours. Again, it’s bright and fresh and soft, but it’s not too plump in the middle and it has the savoury, dry tannins that give reds such a pleasant finish.

Shaw and Smith Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2006 $36–$38
Grumblebone Estate Vineyard Southern Highlands Shiraz 2006 $25

Here we have two contrasting cool-climate shiraz styles. The first, from cousins Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith in the Adelaide Hills, is floral, opulent and juicy rich in a fine-boned way. To me it’s the best and slurpiest in the wine’s short but well-charted history. Stylistically I’d put this at warm end of the cool-climate spectrum. On the other hand, Paul Sibraa’s Southern Highland shiraz has an attractive, exotic white pepper aroma characteristic of very cool growing conditions. White pepper often means green, unripe fruit. But in Grumblebone it’s pleasant seasoning in a fine and bright but taut style.

Chrismont La Zona King Valley Barbera 2004 $22
Margan Hunter Valley Barbera 2004 $25

Northern Italy’s barbera produces reds with stunning purple colour, high acidity, exotic fruit flavour and firm, savoury tannins. In these two Australian expressions of the variety, bottle age has taken the stunning edge off the colour and primary fruit flavours while adding more savoury, mature-wine character. Arnie Pizzini’s La Zona is medium bodied with tart-edged black cherry and mature-wine flavours wrapped in soft, persistent tannins. Andrew Margan’s wine from Broke in the Hunter Valley shows earthy, spicy, ripe cherry aromas that carry through onto a brisk, savoury, taut and dry palate with a teasing lick of fruit under the tannins and acid.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2008