Wine review — Helm, Les Petites Vignettes and Yellow Tail

Helm Canberra District Classic Dry Riesling 2010 $28
Ken Helm launched his new vintage riesling at the same time as his first book, “Riesling in Australia”, co-authored with Trish Burgess. The book, selling for $49.50 through Winetitles, Adelaide, makes interesting reading, especially for riesling nuts. And the wine makes another strong statement for Canberra riesling, especially as it comes from the small and difficult 2010 vintage. It’s low in alcohol at 11.5 per cent and tastes markedly higher in acid than previous vintages – two endearing attributes as both make for great delicacy, and the acid accentuates the intense, lemony varietal flavour and lingering, brisk finish. This is outstanding and built to last.

Les Petites Vignettes

  • Alsace Pinot Blanc 2008 $18–$21
  • Alsace Late Harvest Pinot Gris 2007 375ml $28–$33

Les Petites Vignettes is a Foster’s brand, made in France and sealed with screw caps –a great advantage for fresh young whites like this Alsacian pair. In Australia, there’s very little pinot blanc, a white mutant of pinot noir. But it’s reasonably common in Alsace where it makes full flavoured dry whites. This one’s pure and minerally with a spicy note, rich texture and fresh, dry finish. The late picked, dessert-style pinot gris, another pinot noir mutant, is luscious, delicious, viscous and fresh with a firm, finishing tweak of tannin.

Yellow Tail

  • Shiraz 2009 $6–$10
  • Reserve Shiraz 2008 $11–$15
  • Reserve Chardonnay 2008 $11–15

Despite yellow tail’s runaway success in America the Casella family still finds stock to service the Australian market. The basic shiraz can be found on special at $6, or fully priced at $10.  It’s a decent, ripe, full-flavoured style, big on fruit and easy to drink – one to throw down at the BBQ and ask no questions. The reserve version offers ripe, spicy varietal flavours, but its deeper and more interesting, and interwoven savoury flavours, partly derived from oak maturation. Reserve Chardonnay, too, includes a touch of oak, but the main focus is clean, pure melon and peach varietal chardonnay flavour.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010