Wine review — Penfolds, Littore Family, Cobaw Ridge and Coriole

Penfolds Cellar Reserve McLaren Vale Tempranillo 2007 $50
Littore Family Wines Tempranillo 2008 $9.
Is one worth ten times the price of the other? No, but they’re a world apart. The Littore wine, from the Moorabool Valley, near Geelong, expresses juicy, pure, blueberry-like varietal flavours in a simple, glug-it-down way. The Penfolds wine is more solid, savoury and multi-layered. I liked it after a sip or two earlier this year; wrote it off as too oaky in a masked tasting with other tempranillos at Mount Majura Winery a few months later; and recently savoured every drop of an entire bottle. Sure, there’s abundant oak. But it adds a savoury edge and structure to a complex wine built for the cellar.

Cobaw Ridge White Label Organic Chardonnay 2008 $27
Cobaw Ridge Macedon Ranges Lagrein 2006 $40

Alan and Nelly Cooper’s five-hectare vineyard sits at 610 metres above sea level in Victoria’s very cool Macedon region. The cool site showed in the brisk, concentrated wine flavours during a recent visit. The unoaked white label chardonnay is tangy and intense with dazzling, refreshing acidity. The barrel-fermented 2007 ($35) is sensationally complex and rich, yet restrained and elegant. The 2006 pinot ($48) is fragrant and delicious; but the taut tannins means its best lies ahead. The peppery shiraz 2007 ($40) is very Rhone-like. And the Lagrein 2007 $40 steals the show as a plush but tannic and pleasantly tart expression of this Sudtirol variety.

Coriole McLaren Vale Fiano $25, Sangiovese $22, Barbera $32, Adelaide Hills Nebbiolo $32
Mark Lloyd pioneered the Italian red variety, sangiovese, in the eighties; now offers fiano, barbera and nebbiolo as well; and has a sagrantino up his sleeve for the new year.  The white fiano, a Roman variety, is fragrant in a generally vinous sort of way, with a full, richly textured, pleasantly grippy palate. Barbera, a red from the north presents vibrant summer-berry flavours with a structure built on acid rather than tannin. Sangiovese is the opposite, being savoury with the quite firm tannins that go well with char grilled red meats. The deceptively pale and perfumed nebbiolo, too, packs a load of firm, lingering tannins.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2009