Wine review — Brand’s Stentiford and Wynns

Brand’s Laira Coonawarra
Stentiford’s Old Vine Shiraz 2006 $67–$75

We’ll kick off today’s Coonawarra theme with this beautiful, elegant shiraz sourced from some of the region’s oldest vines. When John Riddoch opened Coonawarra’s first winery in 1896, retired sea captain Stentiford, sold Riddoch shiraz grapes from his Laira vineyard, named after his old ship, and probably planted in 1893. The vineyard now belongs to McWilliams (and before that Eric Brand and family) and in good years produces up to 500 dozen bottles. In the outstanding 2006 vintage winemaker Peter Weinberg captures the deep, sweet elegant flavours produced by the old vines, woven with taut tannins and sympathetic, spicy oak.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate $13–$19

  • Riesling 2010
  • Chardonnay 2010

Riesling once occupied plum terra rossa soil in Wynn’s Coonawarra vineyards but it’s been paired back now, in favour of cabernet, leaving a respectable 70-hectares, much of it off the terra rossa. Because 2010 was a warm vintage, the new release is slightly fuller and softer than the 2009. But it’s still in the lemony, crisp, bone-dry style. While about 50 per cent of the chardonnay blend is still barrel fermented and matured, in older oak, modern Wynns simply screams with vibrant, melon-like varietal flavour. The oak treatment simply adds to the texture and complexity without inserting overt woody flavours.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz 2009  $10–$22
The big retailers regularly use strong brands, like Wynns, to drive trade, hence the wide variation in retail price. Wynns Shiraz offers good value at $22, but if Dan Murphy and 1st Choice (Woolworths and Coles respectively) mete out the same treatment to the 2009 vintage they did to the 2008, then join the rush when the price hits $10. It’ll drive other retailers, and Wynns crazy. But don’t miss out. The 2009 stands out for its pure, intense, spicy varietal flavour and plush, but fine, velvety texture. Wines of this pedigree are rare at the price. Buy up.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010