Wine review — McWilliams Mount Pleasant, Oyster Bay, Stone Dwellers and Holm Oak

McWilliams ‘Elizabeth’ Hunter Semillon 2004 $12-$17
Crème de Cassis de Dijon 500ml $15

Why risk the run of bland, sweet roses when you can render any dry white or bubbly pink – as well as tasty, fruity and bitter-sweet – with a splash of cassis?  The drier and more austere the wine the better as the tartness offsets the cassis sweetness – just as lemon juice tempers oily fish or lime juices spruces up the fruit salad. A good Aussie candidate is young Hunter semillon as it’s normally acidic, bone dry and low in alcohol. The blend is named Kir, after a former mayor of Dijon. Introduce Champagne, preferably an acidic style like Lanson NV, and you have Kir Royale.

Oyster Bay Marlborough Pinot Noir 2008 $17–$23
Stone Dwellers Strathbogie Ranges Pinot Noir 2008 $22–$25

In the mid to late nineties broad acre plantings of pinot, destined for red, not sparkling wine, began to appear in Marlborough. A decade on we’re seeing some terrific wines, some dead set serious, others, like Oyster Bay, offering pleasant, medium bodied expressions of this appealing grape variety. Pinot could become the region’s red equivalent of its globe-conquering sauvignon blanc. In Australia, too, we’re making ever better pinot, like this substantial Strathbogie Ranges version from the Plunkett and Fowles families. This is a far more serious effort – a real red, but still with the fragrance, suppleness, juicy depth and fine tannin structure of good pinot.

Holm Oak Tasmania Sauvignon Blanc 2009 $25
From a 12-hectare vineyard on the Tamar River, Holm Oak sauvignon blanc delivers stunningly fresh, herbal varietal flavours. It provides a light and subtle contrast to Marlborough’s turbo versions. And despite the lightness, there’s a juicy texture, derived from maturation on yeast lees, fleshing out the mid palate. Like the wines from Marlborough it’s a good example of how growing the variety in an appropriately cool climate delivers the right flavour and structure. The vineyard was planted in 1983 by Ian and Robyn Wilson. Their daughter Rebecca, a qualified winemaker, and her partner Tim Duffy now lease the vineyard and make the wines.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2009