Wine review — McLean’s Farmgate, Mount Majura and Cullen

McLean’s Farmgate Eden Valley Riesling 2008 $25
Bob McLean’s Farmgate topped my list of 14 South Australian 2008 rieslings judged at the recent Winewise Small Vignerons Awards here in Canberra. It’s a fresh, taut, finely structured, dry and lively style based on delicious lime-like varietal flavours. It should drink well for years, as these fine, intensely flavoured Eden Valley rieslings tend to do. It’s made by Colin Forbes. A couple of McLean’s reds looked good, too – the savoury Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2006 and sturdier Mourvedre Shiraz Grenache 2007, both from the Eden Valley (the hills on the Barossa’s eastern flank). The wines are available from Bob’s website at

Mount Majura Canberra District TSB 2008 $21, Tempranillo 2008 $35
As the Canberra District matures we’re seeing increasing numbers of beautifully made wines of real depth and character – and not always from the same old varieties. Majura’s Tempranillo, for example, could hold its own with Australia’s best from this Spanish variety. There’s an intensity and purity to the fruit flavour in its own special savoury, peppery, firm-but-fine way. There’s pepper, too, in the fragrant, supple, gold-medal-winning TSG (tempranillo, shiraz, graciano) blend. These are more than just curios. They’re niche reds (for Australia) delivering mainstream drinking pleasure. Great winemaking here from Frank van der Loo.

Cullen Margaret River

  • Kevin John Chardonnay 2007 $70
  • Diana Madeline [cabernet blend] 2007 $105

Big prices, sure, but Vanya Cullen’s two flagships, named for her late parents, offer jaw-dropping quality.  The subtle chardonnay (entirely barrel fermented and matured) grows in interest as you sip, slowly revealing layers of complexity. It’s a harmonious wine capable of developing in bottle for many years. The cabernet blend (cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot) is an old favourite – but none of the earlier vintages can equal the 2007.  It’s ripe, pure, elegant and unbelievably soft and gentle for a cabernet possessing such flavour concentration – it’s all about the harmony between the fruit flavour and the mellow tannins. See

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2009