Wine review — Majella, Helm, Brindabella Hills, Lake George Vineyard and Shaw Vineyard Estate

Majella Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 $33
Like Canberra, Coonawarra suffered severe crop losses in the frosts of late 2006. As a result, says Majella’s Brian Lynn, there’s only a tiny quantity of the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon – one of the most appealing cabernets you’ll ever taste. It has an extraordinary high-toned fragrance and a buoyant fleshy-but-firm, elegant palate to match. I’ve been cellaring Majella cabernets for more than a decade now and, young and old, they provide exciting drinking, never losing their varietal flavour and structure – just changing subtly as they age. This is one of the best. It’s made by Bruce Gregory in Brian and Tony Lynn’s winery alongside the vines.

Ken Helm Premium Riesling 2009 $45
Majella Coonawarra Riesling 2009 $16

What a contrast there is between riesling prices. And the amazing thing is that the quality gap is less than the price suggests. Especially when they’re young, rieslings can be hard to differentiate between – show judges regularly stuff it up. But you can bet your last bottle of Grange that as time goes by the intense, taut Helm Premium will pull ahead of the juicy and delicious Majella. It’s estate-grown-and-made by the Lynn family in Coonawarra. And Ken Helm’s wine is made from the best grapes off Al Lustenburger’s Murrumbateman vineyard.

Brindabella Hills Canberra Sauvignon Blanc 2008 $16
Lake George Vineyard Canberra Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2008 $16
Shaw Vineyard Estate Canberra Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2008 $20

These three appealing whites all featured in James Halliday’s rating of NSW’s top 100 wines and at a subsequent dinner at old parliament house. They offer easy drinking, good value in a spectrum of styles. My favourite is the Brindabella Hills (from Hall), a subtle, pure, ripe sauvignon blanc. It’s just about sold out, but the 2009 is about to be released. The Lake George wine shows more of the lemon-like varietal flavour of Semillon and that variety’s backbone and structure, too. The Shaw wine (Murrumbateman) expresses more of the herbal, greener notes of the two varieties.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2009