Wine review — Stonier, Yering Station, Vintage Cellars, Grant Burge and Coffman & Lawson

Stonier Reserve Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2007 $50
Yering Station Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2007 $26

For Christmas luxury few wines match a top-notch pinot noir. The heady perfume, supple texture and luxurious flavour suit the Aussie summer and our traditional food, such as roast turkey and ham. Pinot also suits more robust seafood such as salmon and even crayfish for those who regard white wine as foreplay. Stonier’s is a superb example of this complex, subtle, supple luxurious style – one to savour and linger over. For a more taut and savoury expression of the variety, one that’s delicious but not opulent, Yering Station 2007 offers good value.

Vintage Cellars Toscana Sangiovese 2006 $13.50–$15
That regulations sometimes backfire is well illustrated in Italy where the so-called super Tuscans, like Sassicaia and Tignanello, rose to global prominence on sheer quality, eschewing Italy’s top ‘DOCG’ status because they used forbidden grape varieties.  Now Italy’s top winemakers face another, potentially more damaging regulation – that DOCG wines be sealed only with natural cork. It’s an old regulation but one that will hurt as the world embraces cork alternatives. A leading Italian producer (presumably the exclusive-to-Coles Rufino) recently illustrated the absurdity of the regulation by shipping Chianti Classico to Coles (owner of Vintage Cellars) under screw cap. To meet legal requirements it’s been downgraded on the label to ‘Toscana Sangiovese’. But in reality it’s a lovely, bright, savoury Chianti Classico.

Grant Burge Summers Eden Valley Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2007 $20–$25
Coffman & Lawson Eden Road Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2008 $22

These represent the bright and shining face of modern chardonnay. They’re both fermented in small oak barrels and matured on spent yeast cells – winemaking tricks that can backfire if the fruit or oak isn’t right. But done properly with the right fruit and oak, as it is in both of these wines, you get superbly rich, beautifully structured wines of great complexity. The funky, taut Burge wine comes from the Eden Valley and Adelaide Hills, neighbouring regions on South Australia’s Mount Lofty Ranges. The Coffman & Lawson wine, made at the old Kamberra winery, Watson, shows the exciting flavour and finesse of Tumbarumba chardonnay.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2008