Wine review — Alinga, Grosset, Cofield, TarraWarra, Walnut Tree and Wynns Coonawarra Estate

Alinga Four Winds Vineyard Canberra District Riesling 2010 $17
Murrumbateman, New South Wales

Alinga’s very much a family affair, based at the Four Winds Vineyard, Murrumbateman. Graeme and Suzanne Lunney planted the first vines in 1998 and their children, Tom, Sarah and Jaime later joined the business. Following Tom’s death  early this year, Sarah’s husband John Collingwood took over the vineyard management. Alinga 2010 riesling is an appealing, gentle style – delightfully aromatic, with a delicate, juicy, soft palate and a good burst of acid giving backbone and crispness to the dry finish. It’ll probably be at its best over the next two or three years.

Grosset Polish Hill River Riesling 2010 $47
Clare Valley, South Australia

Jeffrey Grosset doesn’t enter wine shows. Indeed, were he to show his young rieslings, they’d likely be overlooked for more forward, juicy drops like the lovely Alinga above.  But behind the shy aroma of this 2010, from Clare’s cool Polish Hill River sub-region, lies an intense, citrusy palate of rare dimension, building with each sip and finishing very long and bone dry. It’s like an essence of riesling. And we know from past experience that the aroma and palate will build in complexity and interest with bottle age.

Cofield Vermentino 2010 $20
King Valley, Victoria

Winemaker Damien Cofield writes that he discovered this Italian variety in French Corsica, “It was a bit like sav blanc but with more palate weight and viscosity, which made it go beautifully with the seafood we were eating”. Back in Rutherglen this year he trucked a small parcel in from the King Valley, with pleasing results – in an Italian way: it’s wine-like rather than overtly fruity, with a rich texture, pear-like aftertaste and dry, savoury finish.

TarraWarra K-Block Merlot 2008 $35
Yarra Valley, Victoria

In “Sideways” Miles loathed merr-low – gagging, perhaps, on the thought of sweet, mawkish red wine – a perception shared for a time in Australia.  But one sip of TarraWarra dispels the mawkish merlot myth – as it sucks the water from your eyes. It’s made from an Italian clone with tiny berries, each bearing a truckload of tannin, deep purple colour and a core of delicious fruit flavour, reminiscent of black olives. It’s a powerful and distinctive wine needing time in the cellar or high-protein food to tame the tannins.

Walnut Tree Pinot Noir 2008 $32
Marlborough, New Zealand

This impressive pinot comes from Clyde and Nigel Sowman’s Walnut Block vineyard in Marlborough’s Wairau Valley. The aroma and flavour reveal both the fruity and savoury characters of pinot, with deep, ripe flavours, woven in with persistent, fine tannins and an acidity that accentuates the fruit and adds to the structure. The usual ingredients accounts for its success: cool climate, low yields, gentle winemaking and maturation in high quality, sympathetic oak.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 $19–$34
Coonawarra, South Australia

The release of the new-vintage Black Label coincides with today’s feature on cellaring. That’s appropriate because it’s hard to think of an Australian cellaring red with such a reliable cellaring history. At a tasting of all the Wynns cabernets in 2004, almost every wine, stretching back to the original 1954 vintage, still drank well. The 2008 is cast in the same mould, albeit more solid than recent vintages. It’s densely coloured, intensely varietal, with a touch of Coonawarra “mint”, and firmly structured. The big retailers occasionally slaughter the price, hence the wide price range.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010