Wine review — Chapel Hill, Tar and Roses, First Creek and Stefano Lubiano

Chapel Hill Il Vescovo Tempranillo 2010 $20
McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Today we review two tempranillos, each emphasising a different facet of this Spanish variety. Chapel Hill’s version, made by Bryn Richards, leads with fruit – big, joyous buckets of it, ripe and mulberry like, gushing from the glass, up your nose and down your throat. Delicious stuff. Then tempranillo’s tannins kick in, adding another dimension to the flavour, not to mention a firm, but not hard, savoury finish. This is happy, slurpy tempranillo to enjoy in the full glory of its youth.

Tar and Roses Tempranillo 2010 $24
Alpine Valleys and Heathcote, Victoria
Winemaker Narelle King writes, “the exceptionally low yields in 2010 from our tempranillo vineyards has produced a wine of deep concentration and powerful varietal character showing rich, ripe raspberries with classic chalky tannins”. The wine’s power, tannin and concentration contrast with the juicy fruitiness of the Chapel Hill tempranillo reviewed today. Vibrant red-berry fruit flavours mollify the pervasive tannins. Together they make a distinctive, well-balanced wine, probably with some cellaring ability.

First Creek Winemaker’s Reserve Semillon 2010 $35
Hunter Valley, New South Wales
Hunter Valley winemaker of the year, Liz Jackson, made this delicious, delicate semillon. It’s a really high quality example of the lower-Hunter style – low in alcohol (11.5 per cent), light bodied and delicate, with distinctive lemony and lemongrass flavours and even a hint of lanoline. It’s a style that gathers weight, texture and gravitas with extended cellaring. Indeed, at one year we detect first signs of maturing texture – though the best remains a decade off.

Stefano Lubiana Primavera Chardonnay 2010 $28–$30
Lubiana Vineyard, Derwent Valley, Tasmania
Steve Lubiana writes the big 2010 vintage compensated for a 2009 vintage reduced by poor flowering and fruit set. And in a rare double at this latitude, he rates quality among the best in his 20 years on the property. It’s a wonderful example of modern Australian chardonnay – vibrant, subtle and refined, but with deep flavour, full body and rich, fine texture. The underlying varietal flavour of white peach and grapefruit reflect the cool growing climate – as does the taut, fresh acidity.

First Creek Winemaker’s Reserve Shiraz 2008 $42
Canberra District, New South Wales
Several Hunter winemakers sniffed around Canberra for shiraz in 2008 – a disastrous year for the variety in their district. In this case the Silkman family’s First Creek and winemaker Liz Jackson struck gold. The wine’s at the bigger end of Canberra’s medium bodied style, combining really classy oak with vibrant, fresh, spicy fruit flavour. It’s a great example of oak and fruit working together. In this instance the oak seems to boost the fruit flavour, making the palate that little bit plumper and juicier.

Bowen Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 $30
Bowen Estate Vineyard, Coonawarra, South Australia
Doug and Joy Bowen established their 33-hectare vineyard in 1972. In recent years daughter Emma joined the family business, boosting the workforce and probably contributing to a lift in wine quality. The Bowen’s latest release shows the particularly aromatic fruit of the vintage – in this instance a pure mulberry-like varietal fragrance meshing perfectly with a sweet cedary note of oak. This sweet, cedary fruit-oak combination carries through to the rich, elegantly structured palate.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011
First published 31 August 2011 in The Canberra Times