Wine review — Brown Brothers, Vionta, Formby & Adams, Solar Vieja, Symphonia Vineyards and McIvor Estate

Brown Brothers Prosecco NV $18
King Valley, Victoria

Italy’s prosecco sparkling wines offer a pleasing light, savoury tartness. They’re usually low in alcohol with a simple, freshness and purity. Like a number of Australian winemakers Brown Brothers embraced the style, planting prosecco vines on its elevated, cool Banksdale Vineyard in Victoria’s King Valley. Their tank-fermented non-vintage style offers crisp, light, pear-like flavours with a little kiss of sweetness in the background. It’s an appealing, unobtrusive appetiser and could sit comfortably with just about any food.

Albarino (Vionta) 2009 $27–$30
Rias Baixas, Spain

Dare to zig as everyone else zags? Try this full, fascinating savoury white from Vilanova de Arousa in Spain’s Salnes Valley. Made from the albarino grape, it delivers a light, tropical-fruit aroma and a full, slightly peachy palate with fresh acidity and textural richness derived from ageing on spent yeast cells. But there’s more – a little grip and bite in the finish, giving a pleasing (or challenging to some) savouriness before the dry finish. Probably a bit overpriced for the quality, but it offers a new tasting experience.

Formby and Adams Cutting Edge Cabernet Shiraz 2007 $17–$19
Langhorne Creek, South Australia

In today’s line up of exotica, Cutting Edge stands out for its true-blue, ripe fruitiness. It’s sourced from the Adams’ family’s historic Metala Vineyard at Langhorne Creek and presents the region’s pure varietal definition and plush mid palate. The cabernet component shows a slight “minty” hint and the shiraz adds a plummy plumpness. A kiss of sweet oak adds to the voluptuous, pure drinking pleasure. One bottle may not be enough.

Rioja Crianza (Solar Viejo) 2007 $27–$30
Rioja, Spain

Like the albarino reviewed today this Rioja red is imported from Spain by the Wingara Wine Group, owners of Katnook Estate, Coonawarra. It’s 100 per cent tempranillo in a contrasting style to Symphonia, from Victoria’s King Valley. Fourteen months in oak and about a year in bottle brings it to an appealing stage of maturity. Rather than the plump, bright fruitiness we’re used to in Australian reds it’s lean and savoury with a fine, firm backbone of tannin, releasing teasing bursts of fruit flavour. It drinks beautifully now and should hold its appeal for another few years.

Symphonia Las Triados Tempranillo 2008
King Valley, Victoria

Peter Read planted Symphonia vineyards to a range of exotic varieties in the 1990s, later selling to Peter and Suzanne Evans. Consulting winemaker Robert Paul (formerly of Montrose, Mudgee) makes the wines, aiming for a “European style with more finesse and less oak, not concentration and power”. This is well down that style path. The colour’s deeper than the Spanish version and the fruit notably plumper and brighter. But there’s no oak interfering and the variety’s naturally firm, savoury tannins provide a good counterfoil to the fruit.

McIvor Estate Sangiovese 2008 $25
Heathcote, Victoria

We love this approach to the Italian red variety, sangiovese, by Gary and Cynthia Harbor, owners of the 5.5 hectare McIvor Estate Vineyard. They’ve allowed the variety to be what it is – not pushing it, or over extracting it and, very importantly, ageing it only in old oak. The result is a red of medium hue with a juicy but savoury mid palate, framed by firm, drying tannins. This is an estate to watch.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010