Wine review — Brindabella Hills and Greywacke

Brindabella Hills Canberra District Sauvignon Blanc 2010 $20
Sauvignon blanc is Australia’s most popular white wine style. But in Canberra’s vineyards, where riesling rules, it’s a niche variety, struggling for identity and seldom performing well at our local wine show. A consistent exception has been Roger and Faye Harris’s gentle, lovely version. Year after year it’s been on the money. The 2010 vintage, sourced from Brindabella Hills and neighbouring Pankhurst vineyard at Hall, continues the cellar style. It’s comparatively low in alcohol at 12 per cent and deliciously delicate, fresh and dry. The flavour’s subtly but clearly varietal, expressing the passionfruit-like warmer end of the cool-climate spectrum.

Greywacke Marlborough Wild Sauvignon 2009 $35
Greywacke’s Kevin Judd and sauvignon blanc go back to 1983. As winemaker at Selaks, Judd made some of the first New Zealand sauvignon blancs to be promoted in Australia, starting here in Canberra under the Selaks and Farmer Brothers labels. Judd then joined David Hohnen at Cloudy Bay, the brand that sold the sizzle of Marlborough sauvignon blanc to the world. After 25 vintages at Cloudy Bay, Judd left and launched his own wines – including this thrilling interpretation of the region’s signature variety, fermented by wild yeasts in old oak barrels. This is high acid, intense Marlborough sauvignon of great textural richness.

Brindabella Hills Canberra District Pinot Gris 2010 $20
Winemaker Roger Harris describes pinot gris as “more phenolic [tannic] than the other white varieties I’m used to working with”. Properly managed, says Harris, the tannins give pinot gris a firm backbone and silky texture – a unique and appealing feature of the variety. However, the tannins can also be astringent, throwing the wine off balance. Striking the right balance therefore has much to do with “fining” the wine – stripping out hard tannins using natural products like casein. The spritely, fresh 2010 vintage, sourced from the Mount Majura and Hall’s Crossing vineyards, truly captures the variety’s flavour, distinctive tight structure and rich texture.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011