Wine review — Maipenrai, Brown Magpie and Joseph Perrier

Maipenrai Canberra District Pinot Noir 2006 $23.33–$28
Maipenrai Canberra District Amungula Creek Pinot Noir 2004 $10–$12

Astronomer Brian Schmidt peers into the furthest corners of our expanding universe (see but maintains a terrestrial base near Sutton. From his small vineyard, at 760 metres above sea level, Brian handcrafts the attractive, savoury, and complex Maipenrai Pinot Noir.  It’s a little more taut and grippy than most Australian pinot and improves for a couple of days after opening, a good sign of ageing potential, in my experience. In 2006 he made just two barrels. The mature Amungula Creek wine includes purchased as well as estate-grown fruit and offers terrific value at $10–$12 a bottle. See

Brown Magpie Geelong Pinot Noir 2005 $22
This comparative newcomer, located near the Princes Highway a little to the southwest of Geelong, was established by Shane and Loretta Breheny in 1998. It’s a significant achievement to hit this quality, especially at such a modest (for pinot noir) price, in less than a decade. And it’s a bonus for drinkers that we can still buy the wine four years after vintage. It flicks most of the right pinot switches for fragrance, range of pinot varietal characters, structure and drinkability. I’d love to see this against Curly Flat’s Williams Crossing from Macedon, my top-rated budget pinot to date. See www.

Joseph Perrier Cuvée Royale NV Brut Champagne  $45.90–$50
Joseph Perrier is a consistent performer at the lower end of the market for real Champagne. Its flavour strongly reflects the company’s holdings of pinot meunier near its press house in the village of Cumieres, on the Marne River to the west of Epernay. It shows meunier’s brioche-like aroma and flavour and round soft texture. It’s an old favourite and seems to have maintained its style and quality over the thirty-three years that I’ve been familiar with it. To my taste it beats the pants off other fighting-price Champagnes like Mumm and Piper-Heidsieck. It’s imported by Woolworths and sold through its Dan Murphy chain.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2009