Wine review — Helm, Clonakilla and Shaw & Smith

Helm Canberra District Half Dry Riesling 2010 $20
Here’s the full bottle on Ken Helm’s half-dry riesling – it ain’t ‘alf bad. Inspired by a time-proven German winemaking trick, Helm knocked the yeasts on their heads before they’d gobbled up all the natural grape sugar – arresting the wine at a moderate 10.5 per cent alcohol, and leaving a subtle, sweet kiss of residual sugar. It’s a delicious combination in riesling – tonnes of bright, zesty fruit flavour, in this instance with a distinctly apple-like aftertaste; a little burst of fruity sweetness on the mid palate; and high natural acidity tying it all together and giving a sharp, fresh, dry tang to the finish.

Clonakilla Canberra District

  • Viognier Nouveau 2010 $25
  • Viognier 2009 $45

With these wines Clonakilla’s Tim Kirk presents two faces of the Rhone Valley’s distinctive white variety, viognier. It tends to make juicy, plump, viscous wines dripping with apricot-like flavours and tending to fatten quickly with age. Kirk’s Nouveau, cool-fermented in stainless steel tanks, presents pure, fresh-from-the vine, vibrant fruit flavour, with a tangy acidity and the first signs grip and texture peeping through. The second wine, barrel fermented and from the warm 2009 vintage, presents viognier’s more refined face, albeit with buckets of ‘apricot’ varietal flavour woven with barrel-derived characters, and a thick, velvety texture.

Shaw and Smith Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2008 $38
Martin and Shaw and Michael Hill-Smith’s red sets the pace for Adelaide Hills shiraz – the altitude, and therefore cooler climate, setting its style apart even from those of the neighbouring Eden Valley, to the north. It’s typically fine boned and elegant and based on lively, ripe-berry flavours – more akin to what we make in Canberra than the burly styles made just down the hill from it. But in the hot 2008 vintage its style lurches towards the bigger end of the spectrum. The bright berry flavours are still there, but it’s fuller bodied with more assertive tannins.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010