McKellar Ridge Canberra District Chardonnay 2008 $18–20
McKellar Ridge would have to be one of Canberra’s smallest wineries with production of only 400–500 dozen a bottles annually. Brian and Janet Johnson own the brand and they source fruit from Martin Susan’s Point of View vineyard, Murrumbateman – home also of the winery and cellar door, now open on Sunday afternoon’s. Brian’s first chardonnay from the vineyard is deliciously taut and zesty with melon-like varietal flavour, overlaid harmoniously with distinctive aromas and flavours derived from fermentation and maturation in oak barrels. But it’s the fruit that leads the flavour from beginning to end. Available at cellar door or through www.mckellarridgewines.com.au
Zilzie Selection 23 range $9–11
Chardonnay 2008, Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Moscato 2008
The Forbes family’s Zilzie Wines, established in 1999 and located at Karadoc, near Mildura, takes the value fight to the big producers. It’s not often you’ll find a trophy winning chardonnay under $10, but Selection 23 has won four of them recently – one at the Riverland Show and three at the Australian Inland Wine Show. It’s an appealing, fresh drop with bright, nectarine-like varietal flavour and tingly, dry finish. The lighter-bodied sauvignon blanc offers flavours more akin to passionfruit. And the grapey, spritzy, sweet Moscato, a terrific drop for fresh young palates, has little to do with that variety at all. It’s a blend of crouchen and muscat gordo blanco.
Zilzie Wines $14–16
Shiraz 2007, Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Chardonnay 2008, Viognier 2007
Zilzie’s more upmarket wines offer big value, too, with a notable lift in flavour and complexity over the cheaper range. The sauvignon blanc is pristine, light and fresh with tropical fruit flavours. The barrel-fermented chardonnay is bolder, rounder and fuller with lovely ripe, peachy flavours and the complexities that come from time in oak – but it’s not overdone. The syrupy rich viognier is… well, viognier …a love-it or hate-it style for the adventurous. The reds are very good varietals at a fair price, both in the generous, warm-climate mould. The shiraz is ripe, full and soft with a little burst of toasty oak. And the cabernet shows leafy, clear varietal character, but it’s ripe and full with the variety’s firm tannins.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2008