Wine review — Nick O’Leary, Bleasdale, Dandelion, Chalkers Crossing, Peter Lehmann and Sam Miranda

Nick O’Leary Shiraz 2009 $28
Murrumbateman, New South Wales

Vintage 2009 looks to be a great year for Canberra shiraz. This graceful red won the trophy for best shiraz at the recent Winewise Small Vignerons Awards, with Ravensworth 2009, another gold medallist, not far behind. Nick O’Leary sources about 80 per cent of the grapes from Wayne and Jenny Fischer’s vineyard and the balance from Kyeema’s McKenzie Vineyard. The wine’s busting with ripe, berry fruit and spice flavours, gripped by taut, savoury tannins. Should evolve well, although this medium-bodied style drinks well even now.

Bleasdale Frank Potts Cabernet Malbec 2006 $25–$30
Langhorne Creek, South Australia

Wolf Blass used to call Langhorne Creek Australia’s mid palate. Situated south of McLaren Vale, near Lake Alexandrina, the area makes juicy, fruity reds, often with a light tease of mint or eucalypt. This blend, commemorating Bleasdale’s founder, combines the region’s unusually fleshy cabernet with dark and fragrant malbec, a variety that fares amazing well there. It’s a powerful, fruity, fleshy combination with abundant but soft tannins.

Dandelion Wonderland of the Eden Valley Riesling 2010 $23–$25
This magnificent, delicate riesling comes from a 2.4-hectare Eden Valley vineyard planted in the late nineteenth century and tended for the last 66 years by 90 year old Colin Kroehn. Fruit was hand harvested from the vineyard, its free-run juice fermented in small batches by Elena Brooks, and the wine bottled without fining or filtration. A trophy at the recent Brisbane show hints at the quality in the bottle – set to reveal itself slowly over the next few decades. This is a winner.

Chalkers Crossing Shiraz 2007 $30
Hilltops, New South Wales

Chalkers Crossing, made by Celine Rousseau, currently offers both 2007 and 2008 vintages of their shiraz, sourced from their own Rocklea vineyard at Young. Hilltop’s not far from Canberra, but its shirazes tend to be fuller and fleshier than ours. Rousseau’s wine sits at the big end of the Hilltops style at 15.5 per cent alcohol, but it’s well proportioned, featuring deep, ripe, vibrant, varietal, savoury fruit flavours, wrapped in plush, soft tannins.

Peter Lehmann Shiraz 2008 $15–$18
Barossa Valley, South Australia
The 2008 vintage was marked by a two-week burst of intense, grape-shrivelling March heat. Despite conditions hot enough to singe Satan, Barossa winemakers went about their work, producing decent wine regardless of the adverse vintage conditions. Lehmann’s 2008 reveals the resilience of the Barossa’s vines and winemakers, providing in it own powerful, grippy way a big mouthful of flavour at a fair price.

Sam Miranda Prosecco 2009 $30
King Valley, Victoria

There’s been quite a rush of Italian sparkling prosecco of varying quality into Australia (the variety’s from northern Italy), mirroring its resurgence over there. Sam Miranda’s version, packaged in the King Valley’s smart-looking proprietary bottle, sits in the mainstream of the style: pale coloured, low in alcohol, with a light flavour and tangy, pleasantly tart dry finish. It’s an easy-drinking , unobtrusive style that’ll never be the centre of conversation, just a pleasant backdrop to a meal, like nice curtains in a comfy room.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010