Wine review — Mount Majura, Picardy, Arete, Sam Miranda, Ross Hill and Angullong

Mount Majura Canberra District TSG 2008 $21
Mount Majura, Australian Capital Territory

Mount Majura’s TSG (tempranillo shiraz graciano) won gold for the second consecutive year in the 2010 Winewise Small Vignerons Awards. This year’s award winner, the velvety 2009 vintage, is due for release next year and it’s probably a shade more intense even than current-release 2008 – a delightful drop featuring ripe, blueberry-like fruit flavour with a distinct peppery note that winemaker Frank van de Loo says might come from the graciano component.

Picardy Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc 2008 $25
Pemberton, Western Australia

Most Australian cabernet blends salute the firm, cabernet-dominant styles of Bordeaux’s Medoc sub-region. But this merlot-led blend looks more to Saint-Emilion, another major Bordeaux sub-region, for inspiration. It’s fragrant – courtesy of the merlot and cabernet franc – and medium bodied with a juicy, plump kernel of fruit, elegant structure and fine tannins holding it all together. It’s made by Dan Pannell from estate-grown fruit and probably best within five years of vintage.

Arete Single Vineyard Greenock Shiraz 2008 $45
Barossa Valley, South Australia

We’d normally reserve five-star ratings for wines with long, distinguished track records. But quality can’t be denied here. And there’s a solid provenance behind winemaker Richard Bates: winemaking experience at Saltram, Wolf Blass and Penfolds; a stint with barrel cooper Francois Frere and grape sourcing from Shawn Kalleske’s Greenock vineyard, a hotspot of Barossa shiraz quality. It’s a big, dense Barossa style, saturated with shiraz flavour in a flavour-texture matrix with soft tannins and classy oak. Arete is a big, gentle giant best cellared for a few years.

Sam Miranda Arneis 2010
King Valley, Victoria

Arneis (meaning “little rascal”) is a Piedmontese white variety – sometimes blended with the local reds to ameliorate the tannins – makes brisk, pleasantly tart dry whites. Miranda’s version, from the King Valley’s Myrrhee sub-region, combines piquant pear and citrus flavours. The palate’s tight, brisk, dry and light and finishes with a gentle tweak of soft tannin. If you’re over sauvignon blanc’s in-your-face flavours, try this as a tasty but more subtle alternative.

Ross Hill Pinnacle Series Shiraz 2008 $32–$35
Orange, New South Wale
This delicious, medium-bodied red is a blend of the best ten barrels of shiraz made from the Ross Hill vineyards in 2008. It’s gentle and soft with ripe, sweet fruit, well supported in flavour and structure by high-quality oak. It’s squarely in the fine-boned shiraz style now emerging, with subtle variations, along a big swathe of the New South Wales highlands, from Orange to Canberra to Young to Tumbarumba to Gundagai.

Angullong Fossil Hill Pinot Gris 2010 $22
Orange, New South Wales

Because the Orange region is defined partly by altitude, the 220-hectare Angullung vineyard wanders in and out of the regional boundary – walk up a row of vines until you’re 600 metres or more above sea level and you’re in Orange; stand below 600 metres and you’re in the Central Ranges district. This smooth-textured wine, from the higher, cooler slopes, expresses crystal clear,  pear-like varietal aroma and flavour of pinot gris. It’ll probably never be better than it is now in the full bloom of youth.

Copright © Chris Shanahan 2010