Wine review — Bress, Petaluma, Wolf Blass, Rochford, Hewitson and Zema

Bress Cider Brut 750ml $20
Harcourt Valley, Central Victoria

Emulating the cider makers of Normandy, Adam Marks and Lynne Jensen, bottle ferment their ciders to a wine-like 10 per cent alcohol. They use the specialty cider varieties Kingston Black and Bulmers Norman, in conjunction with Pink Lady and a touch of Perry pears. Bottle fermentation and maturation adds to the texture and provides fine bubbles. The result is a full flavoured, richly textured cider with delicious, clean apple flavours and clean, fresh lingering finish.

Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling 2010 $33
Hanlin Hill Vineyard, Clare Valley, South Australia

Petaluma’s sensational 2010 riesling rates among the finest in the brand’s 30-odd year  history. Made by Andrew Hardy, the 2010 seems luxuriously rich and delicious, showing smooth texture as well as the usual shimmering, lemony varietal tang. It’ll almost certainly age well for decades. And from past experience it’s best drinking will be either now, in the early, fruity glow of youth, or many years down the track as it becomes fully mature.

Wolf Blass Yellow Label Riesling 2010 $15–$22
South Australia

The ever-reliable Yellow Label won a gold-medal at the recent Canberra International Riesling Challenge. It’s a lighter, more delicate style than the Petaluma 2010, weighing in at 12.5 per cent alcohol, versus Petaluma’s 13.5 per cent. It’s lightly floral in aroma, with a taut, lemony palate and delicate, dry, refreshing finish. The label gives the origin as “South Australia”. But this suggests only that the makers are keeping their blending options open in what is generally a Barossa-Eden-Clare product. The price varies widely because of retailer discounting.

Rochford Sebastian’s Paddock Pinot Noir 2008 $54–$60
Macedon Ranges, Victoria

Rochford is a Yarra based maker with 24 hectares of vines near Lansfield, in the Macedon Ranges, and 14 hectares in the Yarra (before its recent purchase of the Briary Hill vineyard). The wine reveals a wide spectrum of pinot aromas and flavours, from ripe, red berries to a slight stalkiness to earthy and savoury notes. The palate’s generous and complex and showing the assertive, firm tannins of the hot 2008 vintage.

Hewitson Baby Bush Mourvedre 2009 $28
Barossa Valley, South Australia

Dean Hewitson makes Baby Bush from a young mourvedre vineyard he propagated from vines planted in 1853. Like the still-producing 1853 vines, the young vines are unirrigated and untrellised. The 2009 is a beautiful expression of mourvedre, including what Hewitson calls a “rustic” note. I interpret that as an earthy or even slightly animal-like smell that hovers over the vats during fermentation and lingers in the finished wine. It’s not a fault – just a stamp of this highly distinctive variety. It’s full flavoured, vaguely blueberry-like, but juicy and spicy and gripped by fine, lingering tannins.

Zema Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 $28
Coonawarra, South Australia

Zema sits in the heart of Coonawarra’s terra rossa soil, on the western side of the Riddoch Highway. Nick and Matt Zema manage the estate, founded in 1982 by their parents Demetrio and Francesca, with former Lindemans winemaker Greg Clayfield calling the shots in the winery. The 2008 cabernet shows the purity and intensity of varietal cabernet flavour that made Coonawarra our cabernet capital. It’s rich and fleshy, with considerable power and concentration, but at the same time elegantly structured. It’ll no doubt age well, but this vintage has an appealing, drink-now lusciousness.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010