Wine review — Madfish, Rusty Fig and Ten Minutes by Tractor

Madfish range: Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2008 $15–18; Moscato 2008 $17–22; Pinot Noir 2007 $16–19; Carnelian 2006 $19–24
Madfish, the second label of Jeff Birch’s Howard Park Wines, has been one of the great successes of the last decade. It works for Jeff. But more importantly it delivers tonnes of flavour and value for drinkers – especially as both large and small retailers seem to have adopted it. And that means regular discounting. The latest Sauvignon Blanc Semillon sits on the herbal/pea-pod edge of sauvignon’s ripeness spectrum. With its zingy taut, dry palate it’s good as a refresher on its own or with food. The new Moscato (only 5.5% alcohol) is sweet, crisp and grapey. The pinot’s medium bodied but savoury and Carnelian is a huge, chocolaty, dry mouthful.

Rusty Fig Bermagui Verdelho 2008 $23 and Albarino 2008 $25
Gary Potts and Frances Perkins grow verdelho, albarino, tempranillo and graciano on their tiny vineyard near Bermagui on the south coast. Their tremendously good sense in hiring Roger Harris of Brindabella Hills as winemaker, gave them a head start in the quality stakes. I’ve not seen the reds (due for release next year) but the whites are outstanding. Verdelho can be a plain-Jane, but this one’s excitingly aromatic with a brisk palate and passionfruit-like tang. The Albarino is more citrus and melon but restrained with a chalky, savoury dry finish. Wines can be ordered by the mixed dozen at

Ten Minutes by Tractor Mornington Peninsula Wallis Vineyard Chardonnay 2006 $55 and McCutcheon Vineyard Chardonnay 2006 $55
These two beautiful chardonnays come from individual vineyards (each ten minutes by tractor from the winery) on the high, cool Main Ridge sub-region of Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. They’re subtly different wines, made by identical processes, but reflecting the fruit flavours from the Wallis and McCutcheon – the former being just a tad more restrained and brisk than the latter.  They’re barrel-fermented using indigenous yeast then matured in identical barrels for 13 months.  They emerge as pale, bright wines of great finesse, complexity and rare flavour concentration.  They’re made by Rick McIntyre and Martin Spedding. See

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2008