Rutherglen Estate Fiano 2009 $21.95
A number of Australian vignerons, mainly in hotter regions, now grow fiano, a white native of Italy’s warm, dry Campania region. Rutherglen Estate’s well made 2009, its second vintage, gives a good impression of what to expect from the variety. It’s clean, fresh, zesty, richly textured and dry. The varietal template says to expect “herbal, nutty, smoky spicy notes and hazelnut”. I found herb and spice and touch of pear – even a nice savoury touch, but, alas, not nuts.
Teusner “The Independent” Shiraz Mataro 2008 $22
Barossa Valley, South Australia
Kym Teusner is one of many young, well connected, energetic winemakers now revealing the beautiful colours and tones of Barossa shiraz, mataro and grenache. “The Independent” – sourced from old low-yielding vines in the Ebenezer, Kalimna and Moppa areas of north Barossa – expresses the ripe, dark-berry flavours, opulence and softness of shiraz, tempered by the spiciness and firm, savoury tannins of mataro (aka mourvedre). This is a wonderful regional specialty.
Printhie Shiraz 2008 $17
Orange, New South Wales
Printhie, founded in 1996, owns 33 hectares of vines at Molong within the official Orange Region boundary. It’s a diverse region, making good chardonnay in the higher, cooler parts and delightful, fine-boned shiraz in the lower, warmer areas. Printhie 2008, made by Drew Tuckwell, appeals for current, medium bodied drinking. It’s in the aromatic, spicy, supple mould – an utter contrast to Teusner’s burlier Barossa style. Fine tannin and comparatively high acid seem to accentuate the vivid fruit flavours.
West End Shiraz 2008 $14.95
Hilltops Region, Young, New South Wales
West End, from the Hilltops region, sits stylistically between the Barossa and Orange shirazes reviewed here. It’s fuller bodied than the Orange wine, but still medium bodied – and delivers the distinctive plump, juicy fruity flavours and soft tannins of Hilltops shiraz. While it lacks the depth, length and polished tannins to get to the next star level, it offers tasty, satisfying drinking at the price Bill Calabria’s team makes it down at Griffith, New South Wales.
Campbells Classic Muscat 500ml $41.90
Rutherglen’s unique, luscious muscats come in four categories – Rutherglen, Classic, Grand and Rare – each representing a step up in age, richness and complexity. Campbell’s basic version, like raisened muscat grapes on a pogo stick, sells for $18.80. But it’s worth stepping up to “Classic”. It’s slightly darker in colour, slightly more olive green at the rim and notably more luscious. It also has the patina of age – a complex of aromas and flavours described by the Spanish as “rancio” – a sniff and a sip brings enlightenment.
Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 $85
Margaret River, Western Australia
I wonder if David Hohnen imagined the class and polish of today’s wines when he founded Cape Mentelle in 1970? Hohnen’s now involved in McHenry Hohnen, but Moet Hennessy Australia, with Robert Mann in the winery, keep Cape Mentelle atop Australia’s cabernet pinnacle. The 2007 is as good as any in the brand’s long history: it’s built on fine, concentrated, ripe varietal flavours, interwoven with sweet, cedary oak and firm but silk-smooth tannins. Mann says the fruits from three blocks planted on the Walcliffe vineyard in 1970 and a parcel from 35 year-old vines at Wilyabrup.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010