Wine review — Tar & Roses and McKellar Ridge

Tar & Roses Heathcote Tempranillo 2007 $24
Tar & Rose Priorat D.O. (Spain) Miro 2006 $49

Don Lewis (former Mitchelton winemaker) and Narelle King (a protégé of Don’s) make the Tar & Roses wines here and in Spain. Tempranillo (a Spanish variety) seems well suited to Victoria’s Heathcote region and shows real class in this example from the 2007 vintage. It’s dense and vibrant with juicy, ripe fruit flavours and persistent real-red tannins – distinctive and powerful but not heavy. The Spanish red (predominantly grenache and carinenena with a little shiraz, cabernet and merlot) is beautifully fragrant with a deliciously harmonious, fine palate that belies its 15 per cent alcohol – one bottle won’t be enough.

Tar & Roses Central Victoria Pinot Grigio 2008 $18
Pinot grigio (aka pinot gris), a mutant of pinot noir, can be sweet, dry (or somewhere in between), watery, grey, golden or pink.  The majority are bland. But occasionally a winemaker captures the pear-like varietal flavour with the rich texture and backbone you’d expect from pinot – something Don Lewis and Narelle King achieve in this modestly priced drop. It’s just lovely to drink now and makes an interesting change from riesling, sauvignon blanc, semillon or chardonnay. It’s sourced from the Strathbogie Ranges, Nagambie Lakes and Sunbury, Victoria.

McKellar Ridge Canberra District Shiraz Viognier 2007 and Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc 2007 $24
In a district of small makers, McKellar Ridge is a small, small winemaker, handcrafting batches of wines from the Point of View Vineyard, Murrumbateman. It’s not that easy making tiny batches as there’s no big pot to tip the mistakes into. But if winemaker Brian Johnston makes mistakes, it’s a well-hidden secret as the quality’s been consistently good and the prices modest. Brian’s latest shiraz viognier’s in the taut, fine Canberra style with an assertive vein of spicy oak biting through the very good fruit. There’s nice fruit in the cabernet, too, but it’s offset by the grippy tannins of the variety. They’re attractive, elegant wines and should be even better in 6–12 months.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2009