Wine review — Montana, Vintage Cellars, Michel Chapoutier and Penfolds

Montana South Island Pinot Noir 2008 $18–$22
Vintage Cellars Central Otago Pinot Noir 2008 $12–$17

Montana – Marlborough pioneer, New Zealand’s largest wine producer and now part of France’s Pernod Ricard group — set its sights on large-scale pinot noir production in the late nineties. They planted broad acres of the variety and developed winemaking systems specifically for this difficult-to-make variety — with convincing results. The latest vintage delivers pleasing, clearly varietal fruit and flesh and sufficient red-wine structure, albeit in pinot’s medium bodied way. Vintage Cellar’s version presents the less fleshy end of the pinot spectrum — the perfume and varietal flavour are there, but the palate’s more taut tannin, again in pinot’s fine-boned way.

Michel Chapoutier

  • Cotes-du-Rhone 2007 $16.90–$17.80
  • Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2006 $59.80–$62.90

These clean, modern wines from France’s Rhone Valley feature grape varieties familiar to Australian drinkers – grenache, shiraz and mourvedre, and probably half a dozen more in the Chateuneuf. This is a fine wine indeed – medium bodied, subtle, earthy, savoury and elegant; a wine that grows on you with every sip, and is quite unlike any Australian grenache based red. It’s fully priced, but a genuine and good example of the style. The cheaper wine’s fuller flavoured, if a little rough around the edges. It’s enjoyable enough but not in the league of its cellar mate – though the importer’s catalogue (Dan Murphy) scores them almost equally, which is nonsense.

Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz 2008 $25–$34
Max Schubert made the first Bin 128 in 1962, maturing it in American oak barrels. But in 1980 Don Ditter switched to French oak. This proved more in tune with Coonawarra’s comparatively delicate fruit. In the 2008 vintage Bin 128 sits at the ripe end of the Coonawarra flavour spectrum. It’s very bright with sweet berry flavours, wrapped in layers of soft tannins. But if it shows the bigger, riper side of Coonawarra, it’s not over ripe and the elegant structure is already emerging. I suspect it’ll really strut its origins and class within three or four years and drink well for decades.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010