Wine review — Jim Barry, Tim Adams, Willow Creek, Mitchell, Rutherglen Estate and Cloudy Bay

Jim Barry “The Florita” Riesling 2009 $40
Watervale, Clare Valley, South Australia
This is a stunning riesling, sourced from selected rows of the historic Florita Vineyard, established by Leo Buring in the 1940s. Replanted to riesling under Lindemans in the 1960s, the vineyard provided fruit for the great Leo Buring Watervale rieslings made for the next few decades by John Vickery. Jim Barry Wines acquired the vineyard in 1986 and the “Florita” trademark in 2004. Florita 2009 is a pristine, powerful riesling with a distinctive lime-like flavour and acidity.

Tim Adams Semillon 2009 $22
Clare Valley, South Australia

Clare semillon enjoys a long, albeit mostly anonymous, history as the backbone of popular, sometimes oak-matured, “white burgundies” in the days of generic labelling. Tim Adams is a particularly good,  modern expression of the style, partly fermented and matured in oak and partly in stainless steel tanks. The stainless steel component retains the tart, lemony freshness of the variety. And the oak fermented and matured component lends structure and complexity – without injecting overt woody flavours. At just on 12 per cent alcohol it’s light, zingy, tasty and refreshing.

Willow Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009 $40
Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

First impressions are of a pure delicate, paler coloured pinot noir, with high-toned perfume and delicious, drink-now flavour. But over a number of days the wine reveals its wonderful flavour depth and a quite strong tannin backbone that should see it evolve beneficially with bottle age. It’s made entirely from estate-grown fruit by Geraldine McFaul, former winemaker for the neighbouring Stonier Winery.

Mitchell GSM (Grenache Sangiovese Mourvedre) 2006 $22
Clare Valley, South Australia

Winemaker Andrew Mitchell describes this as “the glorious essence of grenache enhanced with a touch of mourvedre and sangiovese”. He adds that the wine’s made from hand-pruned old vineyards from around Clare. It’s completely unoaked and a few years’ bottle age sets it apart from other reds at the price. A big, intriguing, earthy-savoury blend – with fruity, spicy grenache at the core – Mitchell GSM offers tonnes of flavour and character at a modest price.

Rutherglen Estate Shiraz Durif 2008 $13.95
Rutherglen, Victoria

Here winemaker Marc Scalzo presents a robust but happy, fruity face of Rutherglen’s two signature red varieties – shiraz and durif. The latter, also known as petite syrah, is an accidental shiraz-peloursin cross, first identified by Francois Durif at Montpellier, France, in 1880 and brought to Australia by Francois de Castella in 1908. This is a big, simple plummy style, packed with ripe fruit flavours and soft, easy-on-the-gums tannins. It’s a good general quaffer, but the sweet fruit and soft tannins allow it to match hot to spicy food.

Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc 2007 $50
Marlborough, New Zealand

Kevin Judd left a notable winemaking legacy at Cloudy Bay, including this left field, oak-fermented, aged sauvignon blanc style. While overproduction and declining prices take much of the cache from Marlborough sauvignon blanc – Te Koko flaunts the region’s extraordinary ability with the variety. As one taster aptly commented, Te Koko feels like chardonnay, tastes like sauvignon. The oak regime contributes a rich texture and complex flavours, but the pungent varietal flavour soars above it. It’ll be the centre of attention wherever it’s served.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010