Wine review — Brown Brothers, d’Arenberg and Coriole

Brown Brothers King Valley

  • Pinot Grigio 2010 $18
  • Limited Release Single Vineyard Pinot Grigio 2010 $30

All too often pinot gris (or grigio) comes with residual sugar filling the hole where the fruit flavour ought to be. Like other members of the pinot family (pinots blanc, noir and meunier) gives its best flavours when grown in cool climates like Whitlands (a high, cool plateau above the southern end of Victoria’s King Valley), source of Brown Brothers flagship. The sheer quality of fruit makes this wine one of Australia’s best. A little lees contact adds texture to its taut, pure, crisp palate. The cheaper version, sourced from Whitlands and Bankside, offers a slightly softer, rounder version, still with pure, fresh varietal flavour.

d’Arenberg Adelaide Hills

  • The Lucky Lizard Chardonnay 2008 $20–$25
  • The Feral Fox Pinot Noir 2009 $24–$36

Lucky Lizard is a very fine example of modern Australian chardonnay making. It’s all about fermenting and maturing top-quality, cool-grown fruit in high-quality oak barrels – some old some new. The technique captures wonderfully intense varietal character and adds textural richness and flavour complexities – but not overt woodiness. Gentle fruit handling and juice extraction also means that though full flavoured, the wine is delicate and fine. Feral Fox is very much a solid, chewy, savoury and smooth d’Arenberg red – a complex and enjoyable expression of pinot, albeit without the high-toned aromatics of most leading Australian styles.

Coriole Vineyards McLaren Vale Fiano 2010 $25

Coriole’s Mark Lloyd was an early pioneer of Italy’s red sangiovese, later moving to other so-called “alternative” varieties, including barbera, nebbiolo, sagrantino and this savoury white of Roman origin. Jancis Robinson says Fiano “provides the latterday incarnation of the wine known as Apianum to the Romans and makes a splendid, very individual dry white in the hills above Avellino” – a description that seems apt for this McLaren Vale version. It’s crisp, clean and fresh in the Australian style but reveals an Italian touch in its grippy texture and pleasantly tart finish.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011