Bourgogne Pinot Noir (Maison Champy) 2005 $20-$25
This is good, affordable real Burgundy, imported by Coles for its Vintage Cellars and 1st Choice outlets. London-based Burgundy specialist, Anthony Hanson MW, introduced Coles to Maison Champy in 1999 – just as the old firm (founded 1720) found new life under Henri and Pierre Meurgey. The wines are better than ever now and a new generation of Coles’ buyer persuaded Champy to preserve this goodness by using a screw cap – a huge step forward in my view. The wine’s limpid and bright with attractive ripe-pinot aroma and taut, fine, elegant structure – underpinned by clean, bright varietal flavour. Good value; watch for the specials.
Osborne Manzanilla Fina Sherry $18-$20
Manzanilla, from Sanlucar de Barrameda, Andalucia, is the lightest and finest of Spain’s fino sherries. It’s at its best when freshly bottled, like this just-landed Osborne – imported by Coles for Vintage Cellars and 1st Choice. At 15 per cent alcohol it’s only marginally stronger than your typical Aussie chardonnay but, of course, it has that tangy sherry edge that you’ll either love or hate. The colour’s pale and the palate is beautifully fresh, bone dry and permeated by the sherry tang – a product of controlled oxidation during maturation under a film of yeast cells in oak for three and a half years. The savoury tang works well with many foods – for example char-grilled seafood, olives and smoked meats.
Oxford Landing South Australia Chardonnay 2007 $7.95
There’s a trickle-down effect from top-shelf to budget wines in larger companies. Hand-me-down barrels plus viticultural and winemaking learnings all help to boost the bottom end – as we see in Yalumba’s terrific Oxford Landing Chardonnay 2007. Fresh, clear varietal fruit flavour’s at the heart of it. But it’s the add-ons that lift it above the ordinary: barrel-matured reserve components from the previous vintage; a portion of wild-yeast ferment (formerly reserved for only top-end wines); ageing on yeas lees and a malo-lactic fermentation for a small part of the blend – and all well integrated with the fruit. In short, it’s a lovely, interesting chardonnay at a bargain price.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2008