Wine review — Bleasdale, Cullen, Ten Minutes by Tractor and Chapel Hill

Bleasdale Langhorne Creek “Second Innings” Malbec 2009 $15
Cullen Margaret River Mangan Vineyard Malbec Petit Verdot Merlot 2009 $45

Malbec, Argentina’s signature red variety, barely hits the scale in Australia, account for just two thousand tonnes of our annual 900-thousand-tonne red harvest. But its attractive perfume and generous flavour shines in these two contrasting styles — the first a great bargain from Bleasdale, Langhorne Creek’s oldest winery. There’s no artifice here — just buckets of bright fruit flavour, reminiscent of very ripe mulberry, laced with soft, velvety tannins. The limpid, delightfully aromatic Cullen ripples with delicious berry flavours. It grows in interest with every sip, gradually revealing the taut, elegant structure (partly attributable to petit verdot and merlot in the blend) underlying the bright, supple fruit.

Ten Minutes by Tractor Mornington Peninsula “Judd”, McCutcheon” and “Wallis” Pinot Noirs 2008 $70

Whether you’re interested in the mysteries of “terroir” or simply love a good pinot, these are three extraordinary wines, sourced from individual vineyards, in close proximity to one another, on Mornington’s Main Ridge. They share family characteristics – pale to medium colour, terrific fragrance and intense varietal flavours. They also vary subtly but distinctly in style, covering a spectrum from the refined, delicate “McCutcheon” to the savoury, earthy “Wallis” to the more opulent “Judd”. These are really high-class wines. Once opened the cap never goes back on. See for details of the three vineyards and factors behind the flavour differences.

Chapel Hill McLaren Vale “Il Vescovo” $20

  • Sangiovese Rose 2010
  • Sangiovese 2009

If you’re going to make rose, it’s best to use varieties – like sangiovese, pinot noir and grenache – that tend to make pale coloured wine anyway. This allows a little skin contact, without extracting too much colour, but sufficient to extract a little tannin and extra flavour. Chapel Hill’s 2010 captures sangiovese’s flavour and savouriness and a bracing tweak of tannin to rev up the dry finish. The red is medium bodied with a juicy flavour, reminiscent of bittersweet black cherries. Fine but earthy, savoury tannins offset the underlying sweet fruit and gives a bone-dry finish.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011