Wine review — Picardy, Grosset, Chapel Hill, Curly Flat, Bourke Street and Mitolo

Picardy Shiraz 2008 $25
Pemberton, Western Australia

Dr Bill Pannell founded Moss Wood, now one of Australia’s great cabernet producers, back in 1969 and later sold it to the Mugford family. By 1993 Pannell, having tired of cabernet, established Picardy at Pemberton with his son Dan. Among other wines they make this beautiful, highly aromatic, savoury, chocolate-rich shiraz. It’s a medium-bodied style with silky textured, soft tannins – described by the Pannells as a shiraz for pinot lovers.

Grosset Gaia 2006 $55
Clare Valley, South Australia

Jeffrey Grosset’s Gaia – a cabernet sauvignon (75%), cabernet franc (20%) and merlot (5%) blend – belies the burly Clare stereotype with its sweet-berry fragrance, elegance and comparative austerity. It’s all class, and built for long cellaring – the sort of wine that captures your attention with the first sniff, and the interests grows as you sip through each glass. The more robust 2007 has been released but the 2006 is still available in some retail outlets.

Chapel Hill Old Vine Grenache 2008 $30
McLaren Vale, South Australia

Can red wine and curry co-exist? Our experience is that full-bodied, fruity, soft Australian reds like warm climate shiraz and grenache succeed – as the sweet fruit survives the scorching heat of capsaicin, the alkaloid giving chilli its sting. We road tested Chapel Hill successfully at Jewel of India, Manuka – our sole caveat being that the French oak seemed a little accentuated as the heat rose. Away from the heat, the exuberant fruit and oak harmonised nicely.

Curly Flat Pinot Noir 2006 $46
Macedon, Victoria

At the Winewise Small Vignerons Awards judged in Canberra in early July, Curly Flat 2006 topped a field of French, Australian and New Zealand Pinot Noirs – many, including one from famed Burgundy producer, Domaine de la Romanee Conti, were far more expensive. It’s a sensational wine from Phil and Jeni Moraghan and in the world of pinot noir, it’s positively cheap for this quality. It has more fleshy, mid-palate fruit than the Burgundy style and the tannin structure to evolve for many years.

Bourke Street Canberra District Shiraz 2008 $19
Murrumbateman, New South Wales

The new Bourke Street label is an offshoot of the Nick O’Leary and Collector brands, made by Nick O’Leary and Alex McKay. McKay says there’s some overlap in their grape buying and because they buy whole blocks from growers, not cherry-picking small amounts, they end up with more wine than they need. The result is the refined, elegant Bourke Street shiraz – built on vivid, ripe-berry and spice flavours, fresh acidity and fine tannins.

Mitolo Jester Vermentino 2010 $20–24
McLaren Vale, South Australia

Italy’s white vermentino variety grows principally in Sardinia and Liguria. This one, made by Ben Glaetzer, comes from Frank Mitolo’s vineyard at Willunga, McLaren Vale. It’s just 10 per cent alcohol with simple, fresh-from-the-vine tropical fruit notes dominating the aroma and flavour. The combination of vibrant, fresh fruit, low alcohol and dry, zesty finish make it a good match for light, fresh food. It’s a drink-now wine, so not for the cellar.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010