Wine review — Mistletoe, Bowen Estate & Bidgebong

Mistletoe Hunter Valley Home Vineyard Semillon 2008 $18 & Broke Verdelho 2008 $18; Tulloch Hunter Semillon WA Sauvignon Blanc 2008 $16
These are the first three 2008 whites to hit the tasting bench. Mistletoe’s semillon, at 9.5 per cent alcohol, has the tangy, face-twisting, eye-watering impact of fresh grapefruit – an oddity at present but one that’ll no doubt be mollified by time and sit well with fresh fish and lemon. Their verdelho, though, is juicy, sappy, fresh and ready to enjoy now. It’s from a single vineyard at Broke, one Valley over from Pokolbin. Tulloch’s Hunter-Western Australia blend is another low-alcohol drop at 10.5 per cent. It’s on the lean, herbal side of sauv blanc and seems to rely on a bit of residual sugar to fill out the palate – it’s fair value at $16.

Bowen Estate Coonawarra Shiraz 2006 $28.20, Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 $28.20, Chardonnay 2007 $20.30
Bowen’s new chardonnay shows melon-like variety flavour, barrel influence and has the slightly fat, sweet finish typical of the Aussie style. It’ll be a handy cellar door wine, but not one to stand out in the retail world. The reds, however, hit the excitement button and I wonder if, perhaps, we’re seeing the influence of new generation Emma Bowen, daughter of founders Doug and Joy Bowen. The shiraz is sensational with its bright berry fruit, elegant structure and velvety, smooth texture – the best for years in my view. The cabernet impresses, too. It’s got some leafy notes, but they’re just seasoning to a substantial and satisfying Coonawarra classic.

Bidgeebong Icon Series Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2006 $34, Gundagai Shiraz 2005 $22
Bidgeebong’s Icon Series 2006 gives some of our $60-plus chardonnays a run for their money. It’s a finely sculpted, pale, dry style showing the class of high, cool Tumbarumba – it’s lean, taut and dry but rich and smooth at the same time, with years of cellaring ahead. Watch Tumbarumba it’s taking off in its own right and moving away from its past as source of premium blending material for the big companies. Winemakers Andrew Birks and Keiran Spencer have come up with another winner, too, in the rich, plummy, supple and savoury Gundagai Shiraz – a bargain. But one query gentleman – what’s with the daggy labels?

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2008