Wine review — Marchand & Burch, Jeanneret, Chandon, Vasse Felix, Moppity Vineyards and Mount Pleasant

Marchand and Burch Chardonnay 2009 $70
Porongurup, Great Southern, Western Australia

This glorious chardonnay results from collaboration between Howard Park owner, Jeff Burch, and Canadian-born Burgundy winemaker, Pascal Marchand. It’s from a mature, south-facing (and therefore cool) vineyard at Porongurup, in Western Australia’s Great Southern region. It’s not an area noted for chardonnay, but this one’s so powerful, bright, delicate fresh and balanced, it simply blows away all preconceptions. Its delicacy and purity come from hand-sorting fruit, gentle, whole-bunch pressing and a short period of settling before being racked to oak barrels for a spontaneous primary fermentation.

Jeanneret Watervale Riesling 2010 $25
Watervale, Clare Valley, South Australia

This is the finer and more delicate of two 2010 Clare rieslings just released by Ben Jeanneret. The rich and juicy Big Fine Girl ($19), blended from across the valley, offers delicious value. But the Watervale wine, from Barry Marssons’ vineyard on Watervale’s western slopes, captures the racy acidity, brisk, lime-like flavour and delicate, long dry finish of this distinguished Clare sub region. It delivers big drinking satisfaction at a modest price.

Chandon Vintage Brut 2007 $39.59
Various cool regions in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia

Chandon’s 22nd vintage bubbly, blended from over 40 base wines, continues the soft, subtle, creamy style established with the first in 1986. The blend of 54 per cent chardonnay and 46 per cent pinot noir, aged on yeast lees in bottle for about 30 months, combines the delicacy of chardonnay, the body and structure of pinot and the texture of prolonged ageing. It’s a smart wine and miles ahead of where we were with bubblies twenty years ago. But, alas, it doesn’t yet have the jaw-dropping WOW factor of the best Champagnes.

Vasse Felix Cabernet Merlot 2008 $25
Margaret River, Western Australia

Vasse Felix – founded in 1967 by Dr Tom Cullity and now owned by the Holmes a Court family – remains one of Margaret River’s most exciting producers, across its whole range. But on a recent visit, three cabernet based blends, made by Virginia Wilcock, really won our taste buds. The $25 cabernet merlot blends introduces the refined, elegant style – combining bright berry flavours with a tease of oak, gentle mid palate and edgy cabernet finish. Step up to the $39 cabernet 2008 (with its touch of malbec for more power and authority; and complete the picture with the profound Heytesbury cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot, malbec ($80).

Moppity Vineyards Estate Shiraz 2009 $24.99
Hilltops, New South Wales

It’s easy to love shiraz from the neighbouring Hilltops region (Young). A tad warmer than Canberra, the area produces slightly fleshier, though still medium bodied styles – featuring pure, berry and spice varietal flavours, generous mid palate and soft tannins. The wines tend to reveal their charm up front as youngsters, like this one from Jason and Alicia Brown’s Moppity vineyard. Brown says it’s sourced from the estate’s original vines, planted in 1973 – the vine age no doubt contributing to the wine’s depth and complexity. It’s simply scrumptious.

Mount Pleasant Old Paddock and Old Hill Shiraz 2007 $40
Mount Pleasant, Hunter Valley, New South Wales

In 1921, legendary winemaker Maurice O’Shea planted shiraz on the Old Paddock Vineyard, not far from the vines planted 39 years earlier on the Old Hill Vineyard. The venerable old shiraz vines from the two vineyards produced this wonderful, idiosyncratic red. The colour’s limpid and crimson rimmed; the aroma combines ripe, dark berries with the Hunter’s distinctive earthiness and savouriness – characters reflected on the generous, finely structured, tannic but soft palate. A gold medallist in the 2009 Hunter Valley wine show, this is one to cellar for many years.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010