Wine review — Hungerford Hill, Amungula Creek and Houghton

Hungerford Hill Tumbarumba

  • Pinot Noir 2009 $27–$30
  • Chardonnay 2009 $27–$30

Southcorp Wines merged with Rosemount Estate in 2001 and in 2002 sold its Hungerford Hill Brand to the Kirby Family. Michael Hatcher now makes the wines, including these two from Tumbarumba, in the company’s winery at Pokolbin, Hunter Valley. The chardonnay’s intense, cool-climate nectarine-like varietal flavour melds seamlessly with barrel-derived characters; brisk acidity adds structure and freshness – adding up to a vivacious, complex white. Tumbarumba’s pinots tend to be on the lighter side and fine boned, but with good varietal flavour depth. Hungerford Hill 2009 throws in a pleasing tight but fine tannin structure and savoury note or two.

Amungula Creek Canberra District Pinot Noir 2008 $16
Amungula is the second label of Brian Schmidt’s 1.1 hectare, Maipenrai Vineyard on the Yass River Valley. At 760 metres it’s one of Canberra’s highest vineyards (they vary from about 550 metres to 860 metres). Maipenrai’s planted entirely to six clones of pinot noir, managed to yield a miserly 2.5 to 4.0 tonnes a hectare. Schmidt writes that he’ll release the flagship Maipenrai 2008 next year – all three barrels of it. Meanwhile there’s about six barrels of Amungula. It reveals a spectrum of pinot aromas and flavours – from a touch of stalkiness to ripe berries. Despite the light colour, it has a good depth of flavour and the silky but firm structure of good pinot.

Houghton Wisdom Frankland River Shiraz 2008 $26–$32
Frankland River has a unique niche in Australia’s wide and impressive spectrum of shiraz styles. And it’s expressed clearly in this very good wine from Houghton, part of Constellation Wines Australia. At the heart of the wine is beautifully fragrant, ripe, juicy berry flavours (like mulberry and blueberry). As the wine breathes, the ripe berry aromas, tinted with lovely oak, become more apparent. On the medium-bodied palate, though, the berry flavours become a core of sweetness, tightly wrapped in firm, savoury tannins. That savouriness and grip, in combination with the underlying teasing, juicy fruit, sets the style apart from other Australian shirazes.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010