Wine review — Chapel Hill, Barwang, Chalkers Crossing and Bremerton

Chapel Hill McLaren Vale

  • Verdelho 2009 $16–$20
  • Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 $27–$30

Verdelho, one of the classic Madeira varieties, made its way to Australia in the nineteenth century. It thrived as both a fortified and table variety. Today it’s valued as niche white variety, partly because it retains acidity in our warm growing regions. This example from Chapel Hill captures the variety’s fresh, crisp sappy edge and makes an interesting diversion from sauvignon blanc. Though robust, tannic and deeply layered the cabernet, from the exceptionally hot 2008 vintage, shows a tease of green, leafy notes among the riper blackcurrant-like flavours. Not for the faint hearted.

Barwang Hilltops Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 $17–$20
Chalkers Crossing Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2008 $18–$20

Cabernet sauvignons from the nearby Hilltops region (Young) generally perform well at the Canberra Regional Wine Show. Barwang, the region’s first vineyard, now owned by McWilliams, shows some of that class in its modestly priced 2008 vintage. It shows pleasantly fleshy, minty, chocolaty varietal flavour and has an assertive, firm tannic grip. It’s well distributed and sometimes deeply discounted. And at a recent masked tasting, Chalkers Crossing Chardonnay 2008, from high, cool Tumbarumba rated well. It’s an understated, elegant style built on high-acid cool-climate fruit flavours but with a textural richness derived from barrel fermentation and maturation.

Bremerton Langhorne Creek

  • Special Release Malbec 2008 $24
  • Tamblyn Cabernet Shiraz Malbec Merlot 2008 $17–$19

Malbec has a long history in Langhorne Creek, generally playing a support role to other varieties. Occasionally, though, it stands on its own (as it does in Cahors, France, and widely in Argentina), producing fragrant, deeply coloured, supple, fruity wine with firm but fine tannins. Bremerton comes from the Willson family vineyards, established in 1985. It’s made by Rebecca Willson, daughter of founders Craig and Mignonne. The Tamblyn blend, too, shows Langhorne Creek’s generous fruit and juicy depth – clear cabernet notes leading the harmonious blend. The malbec is available only by mail order and at cellar door. See

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010