Wine review — Dal Zotto, Brokenwood, Zonte’s Footstep, Cape Mentelle, d’Arenberg and Punt Road

Dal Zotto Pucino Prosecco NV $18.50
King Valley Victoria

Prosecco’s Italian home is the Valdobbiadene district, near Conegliano in the Veneto region. The variety makes light, delicate aperitif-style sparkling wines, usually tank fermented (Charmat method) and served as young and fresh as possible. Otto Dal Zotto, born in Valdobbiadene, released his first Australian prosecco in 2004 and now offers two versions – the light, delicate, fresh, Charmat-made Pucino NV, with its rush of creamy bubbles; and, with finer bubbles, the more richly textured, but still delicate and fresh, L’Immigrante 2008 ($36). These are terrific all-purpose, unobtrusive but interesting sparklers.

Brokenwood Shiraz 2009 $40
Hunter Valley, New South Wales

This is really a review of two subtly different, just-released Brokenwood 2009 shirazes – beautiful expressions of the unique Hunter style. Both are limpid, earthy and savoury with the region’s fine-boned, soft tannin structure. The $40 wine (from young vines on the Graveyard Vineyard and declassified Graveyard barrels) reveals slightly brighter, fleshier fruit under the savoury tannins. And the $50 wine, from the Verona Vineyard, across the road from Graveyard, offers slightly denser flavours and more savoury bite. Both are irresistible.

Zonte’s Footstep Violet Beauregard Malbec 2009 $22
Langhorne Creek, South Australi
The dozen or so folk behind Zonte’s Footstep, including winemaker Ben Riggs, currently deliver some of the best value mid-priced regional specialties in the market. From a single vineyard at Langhorne Creek, near Lake Alexandrina, this malbec bears the Ben Riggs thumbprint – a vibrant, fresh wine, expressing pure blueberry-like varietal aroma and flavour, with assertive but kind tannins. It’s a lovely, easy-to-drink expression of malbec that lets the fruit and location do the talking. Another glass please.

Cape Mentelle Wallcliffe Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2008 $40
Margaret River, Western Australia

Sauvignon blanc on its own can be a happy fruit bomb – all tits and feathers, so to speak. But with semillon in the mix (and barrel fermentation) a wine of real depth and personality sometimes emerges, as we see in this distinctive Cape Mentelle wine. Inspired by similar Bordeaux blends, it reveals pungent, herbal high notes of sauvignon blanc and cool-grown semillon and a zesty, light palate with the deep textural richness of barrel-fermented semillon. It’s sourced from Cape Mentelle’s old Wallcliffe Vineyard.

d’Arenberg The Derelict Vineyard Grenache 2007 $30
McLaren Vale, South Australia

With strong demand for his grenache-based wines, d’Arenberg’s Chester Osborn resurrected a long-neglected vineyard that had become a horse paddock. The wine from it is strong, earthy and rustic in the distinctive d’Arenberg mould – none of the musky, confection notes seen in some Australian grenaches. Rather, it’s medium coloured but full bodied with deep earthy, savoury flavours and quite a strong bite of tannin, characteristic of the drought vintage. The style ages well.

Punt Road Airlie Bank Shiraz Viognier $18
Yarra Valley, Victoria

Could this be the story of the little wine that trounced the champs? Kate Goodman’s alluring, $18 shiraz viognier blend won a gold medal in the 2009 Yarra Valley Wine Show, then took on all comers, regardless of price, to seize the best-shiraz trophy. A year on, Airlie Bank still seduces with its high-toned perfume, sweet fruit and gentle, fine tannins. It’s a style to drink and enjoy now, no cellaring required.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010