Wine review — Ant Moore, Hewitson, Bleasdale, Barwang, Amisfield and Balnaves

Ant Moore Marlborough Pinot Gris 2009 $22
In 2002 former AIS student, Anthony Moore, moved to New Zealand, made wine at Isabella Estate, established his own vineyards in Marlborough’s Awatere, Waihopai and Wairau Valleys, later launching his own label. His delicious, pinot gris, from the Ant’s Nest vineyard, Waihopai Valley, delivers a fresh-pear like varietal flavour only ever achieved in very cool growing conditions. It’s crisp, dry and smoothly textured without the fatness that sometimes detracts from the variety.

Hewitson Lu Lu Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2010 $22
Sauvignon Blanc’s the white equivalent of Beaujolais – rippling with juicy, fresh-from-the-vine, grapey flavours, and never better than when it’s first released. While Marlborough dominates the market, Australia’s high, cool Adelaide Hills hits the mark, too, albeit in a different style. Dean Hewitson’s estate-grown version captures the exuberant, riper tropical-fruit end of the spectrum. It shimmers with passionfruit-like flavours, finishing brisk and dry.

Bleasdale Langhorne Creek ‘Second Innings’ Malbec 2008 $15
Malbec, Argentina’s signature red variety, barely hits the scale in Australia, accounting for just two thousand tonnes of our annual 900-thousand-tonne red harvest. But it’s an attractively perfumed, generously flavoured variety as we can see in this bargain from Bleasdale, Langhorne Creek’s oldest winery.  There’s no artifice here – just buckets of bright fruit flavour, reminiscent of very ripe mulberry, laced with soft, velvety tannins.

Barwang Hilltops Shiraz 2008 $20
Shiraz from the nearby Hilltops region (Young) tends to be slightly fuller bodied than the fine-boned Canberra style, with a drink-me-now fruitiness – a style exemplified by the supple, virtually unoaked, Eden Road 2008, winner of the 2009 Jimmy Watson Trophy. Barwang is a notch up on this for oak-derived complexity. But it shares an appealing, fleshy fruitiness, not unlike ripe black cherries. This is apt, as cherry farmer Peter Robertson planted the first vines on Barwang back in 1969.

Amisfield Central Otago Dry Riesling 2009 $30
New Zealand’s Central Otago region lies two degrees south of Hobart and its climate is marginal for late-ripening varieties. Riesling, for example, barely scraped through in 2009. But what a stunning, delicately floral aromatic wine resulted. It’s moderately alcoholic at 12.2 per cent; and a trace of residual sugar hardly registers on the palate as it’s offset by the flavour intensity, unique textural richness and steely acid backbone. This is thrilling stuff from winemaker Claire Mulholland.

Balnaves of Coonawarra The Tally Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 $90
The Balnaves family began a tentative move from contract grape growing to winemaking in 1990, later building a winery and employing former Wynns winemaker Pete Bissell. Their flagship red, The Tally, shows the great glory of Coonawarra cabernet. It’s saturated with pure, ripe cassis-like varietal flavour backed by classy oak and firm, ripe tannins. It’s a powerful, elegantly structured red built for long cellaring. Balnaves standard Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 ($35) rates only a notch or two behind.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010