Wine review — Plunket-Fowles, Meerea Park, Penfolds, Pooles Rock and Freeman

Plunkett-Fowles Stone Dwellers Strathbogie Ranges Riesling 2008 $18–$22
Meerea Park Hunter Valley XYZ Semillon 2009 $20–$2
Stone Dwellers, from Victoria’s Strathbogie Ranges, delivers huge dollops of juicy, fresh, citrus-like fruit flavours. At 13 per cent it’s at the high-alcohol end of the riesling spectrum. But that just adds to the richness – and, in any event, there’s heaps of acid keeping it fresh and crisp. In contrast, Meerea Park’s 11 per cent alcohol semillon, from the Howard family’s vineyard, is all tightness and restraint. Lemony, crisp, and plank dry, it makes a terrific aperitif now, and has the structure and flavour depth to flourish over time. A glorious follow-up bottle of Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon 1997 reminded us how good this style is with age.

Penfolds Bin 138 Shiraz Mourvedre Grenache 2008 $25–$30
Pooles Rock Hunter Valley Shiraz 2007 $39–$4
Warm climate Australian shiraz reveals more faces than a Tokyo subway. The plush and pure Pooles Rock bears the Hunter’s unique thumbprint: an earthy note hovering over ripe, sweet fruit aromas and, on the palate deep, sweet fruit layered with soft tannins.  It’s an easy style to drink young, but becomes finer and more ethereal with age, sometimes over many decades. Barossa shiraz, too, can be juicy and soft. But in Bin 138, mourvedre adds a fine, savoury tannic grip and grenache inserts its aromatic high notes into a complex wine. This one needs a few years bottle age to be at its best.

Freeman Rondinella Corvina Secco 2005 $27–$30
This is a brilliant Aussie take on the classic reciotto della Valpolicella Amarone style of Verona, Italy, made from dried grapes. Brian Freeman established his vineyard at Young from just six cuttings each of the Veronese varieties, rondinella and corvina in 1999. Rather than go the whole hog like the Valpolicella Amarone makers, Brian uses mainly fresh grapes, adding a portion of dehydrated berries during fermentation. The 2005 vintage seems a little less full bodied than the 2004 reviewed here last year, but the underlying cherry-like fruit flavours are similar. Five years’ bottle age gives a lovely mellowness to match the grippy Italian savour.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010