Wine review — Holm Oak, Seppelt Drumborg, Stefano Lubiana, Heartland, Coriole and Penfolds

Holm Oak Riesling 2009 $25
Rowella, Tasmania

Before unscrewing the cap, prepare for a giant step away from our traditional Clare Valley, Eden Valley or even Canberra riesling styles. Rowella’s very cool climate means more acidic grapes. The resulting wines tend therefore to be lean and minerally with high natural acidity. We see this in Home Oak, produced by husband and wife team  – Rebecca Wilson in the winery and Tim Duffy in the vineyard. The cool climate also tends to intensify varietal flavour. In tandem with the natural acidity this delivers a delicate, bracingly fresh, dry aperitif style with potential to build and fill out over time.

Seppelt Drumborg Vineyard Pinot Gris 2010 $27
Henty, Victoria

The wine’s been around since 1997 under Seppelt’s Coborra label. The name change simply emphasises its source – the Drumborg vineyard, just north of Portland on Victoria’s southwestern coast. The particularly cool site brings out the distinctive, if elusive, pear-like varietal flavour; and fermentation and maturation of part of the blend in older French oak vats builds texture and richness on the palate. It’s bone dry, zesty fresh and finishes with a pleasant savoury bite. Emma Wood makes the wine at Seppelt’s Great Western winery.

Stefano Lubiana Pinot Noir 2008 $45–$50
Derwent River, Tasmania

There’s something special about this part of the Derwent, just outside Hobart – home to Steve and Monique Lubiana’s vineyard and neighbouring Derwent Estate. Lubiana’s chardonnay and pinot rate among the best in Australia. And we know that Derwent Estate supplies chardonnay for Penfolds flagship Yattarna and Hardy’s just-released, new Eileen Hardy pinot noir. While Derwent Estate has yet to appear on the wine drinker’s radar, Lubiana demonstrates in this wine just how good the sub-region is. This is pinot of rare dimension – fragrant and intense, with deep, sweet fruit, restrained by fine, but firm tannins. This is pure power and elegance, built for the long haul.

Heartland Dolcetto and Lagrein 2008 $17
Langhorne Creek and Limestone Coast, South Australia

Dolcetto, originating in northwestern Italy and Lagrein, from the northeast, succeed dramatically well in this blend from winemaker Ben Glaetzer. The vivid purple colour, heady, ripe-cherry aroma and opulent, juicy-but-dry, savoury palate make a winning combination – especially at the price. Ben writes that dolcetto provides the “berry fruit flavours and lifted tones” while lagrein offers “astounding colour intensity and very good acid retention”. Something different and thoroughly enjoyable.

Coriole Reserve Sangiovese 2007 $45
McLaren Vale, South Australia

The Lloyd family was an early pioneer of Italy’s sangiovese, planting its first vines in 1985, about a decade behind Carlo Corino at Montrose, Mudgee, but a generation ahead of a wider trend to “alternative” varieties. This is Mark Lloyd’s first “reserve” since 1998 – “selected from our best vineyards and barrels from vintage 2007”, he writes. It’s pristine sangiovese, with an aroma and flavour reminiscent of dark, ripe, sour cherry, backed by firm, savoury tannins. Unlike most McLaren Vale reds, it’s medium rather than full-bodied. I suspect that over time it’ll become more ethereal, savoury and earthy while retaining its lovely core of unique, varietal fruit flavour.

Penfolds Grandfather Rare Tawny $99
South Eastern Australia

The distinctive pale, green-gold rim reveals Grandfather’s great age – an average of more than 20 years’ oak ageing for the various components in the blend. It’s one of Australia’s great wine treasures, based on a six-stage “solera” housed in a non-descript shed at Kalimna, northwestern Barossa Valley. Over great periods of time, the fortified blend of (predominantly) mourvedre, shiraz, cabernet and grenache takes on its unique, aged colour, aroma, flavour and texture through a process of slow oxidation in small, old oak barrels. The result is a luxurious tawny of great finesse and character.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010