Wine review — Chablis Michel Bouchard, Chapel Hill and Shaw Vineyard Estate

Chablis (Michel Bouchard) 2009 $14.99
This is one of three French chardonnays we bought from Cosco recently – a direct import, along with other two, Chablis (William Fevre) 2009 $18.99 and Puligny-Montrachet (Louis Latour) 2008 $42.99, already reviewed in my Wednesday column. Like the other two, Michel Bouchard’s wine presents really good value as it offers the key characteristics of Chablis at a low price. Chablis, the northernmost and coolest outpost of Burgundy makes comparatively austere, bone-dry chardonnays noted for their minerality – and once described as like sucking pebbles. This one fits the template but also has some mid-palate texture, presumably from ageing on yeast lees.

Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Bush Vine Grenache 2009 $30
What a beautiful wine this is, capturing the rich, earthy flavours of old McLaren Vale bush vines (vines grown as individual bushes, without trellising) planted in 1926 and 1952. Winemakers Michael Fragos and Bryn Richards say the grapes were hand picked and the wines made in small batches in open fermenters “to facilitate a long, slow, gentle extraction”. Subsequent maturation in older French oak hogsheads further ameliorated the tannins. The result is a pure grenache featuring the buoyant fruit aroma and flavours of the vintage – with a background of spice and soft, earthy tannins. Rachel Steer looks after the venerable old vines.

Shaw Vineyard Estate Canberra District Shiraz 2009 $22
Shaw Vineyard Estate of Murrumbateman offers a rich cellar door experience – including food by Flint in the Vines and a range of colourful direct-import Italian ceramics. Several quality tiers of wine on offer include this “premium” shiraz at $22 – a fair enough price, though I wonder what “premium” means. It’s a fairly big, ripe shiraz in the Canberra context, with quite strong, deep fruit flavours pushing up through the also solid tannins and slightly hot affect of alcohol. It’s a style to drink over the next four or five years. The estate is owned and run by Graeme Shaw and family.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011
First published 11 September 2011 in The Canberra Times