Wine review — Symphonia, McIvor and Brand’s

Symphonia King Valley

  • Petit Manseng 2008 $24
  • Saperavi $24

These eye openers come from the Symphonia Vineyard, owned by Peter and Suzanne Evans, parents in law of well-known winemaker Sam Miranda junior. Petit manseng, a southern French variety, impresses for its scrumptious fruit flavour and racy, pleasantly tart dry finish. Everyone loved it at a recent tasting. The same tasters, though intrigued, struggled with the purple, fruity, acidic, tannic saparavi (a Russian variety). That’s not surprising, though, says winemaker Robert Paul, describing saperavi as the Russian equivalent of the equally burly durif variety. Like the tasters, Paul sees a bright future in Australia for petit manseng.

McIvor Estate Heathcote

  • Marsanne Roussanne 2010 $25
  • Nebbiolo 2008 $35

Gary and Cynthia Harbor’s McIvor Estate lies at the southern, cooler end of Victoria’s Heathcote region, about 50 kilometres southeast of Bendigo. They specialise in niche varieties, including this white Rhone Valley inspired blend of marsanne and Roussanne and the red nebbiolo, from Italy’s Piemonte region. The white combines the shy, light tanginess of roussanne with the textural richness of marsanne – a pleasant, savoury drink-now white that’ll probably fatten with age. The nebbiolo is typically pale coloured and aromatic with the always-surprising lean, sinewy, savoury palate – a really good expression of this difficult variety and a treat to drink with high protein and gamey food.

Brand’s Laira Coonawarra

  • Shiraz 2008 $17–$22
  • Cabernet Merlot 2009 $17–$22

These are decent, solid wines at a fair price. The shiraz is attractively aromatic and flavour packed with quite a hit of oak building the mid palate and swamping, to some extent, the mid-weight ripe-berry flavours of the fruit. I can’t help thinking, therefore, that the wine might be a whole lot better, and reveal its Coonawarra origins more clearly, if the winemakers wound the oak back – maybe use no new barrels at all. The same might be said for the cabernet merlot, which seems also a touch leafy and green. At this price point these wines are being killed in quality and regionality by their neighbour, Majella, with its pure and lovely The Musician.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010