Wine review — Cofield, Tscharke, Rutherglen Estates, Alkoomi, Mitolo and Domain A

Cofield Provincial Parcel Beechworth Chardonnay 2009 $36
Beechworth, Victoria
There’s a stylistic salute to Rick Kinsbrunner’s legendary Giaconda chardonnay in Damien Cofield’s first vintage from the region. The salute includes the notable influence of barrel fermentation and maturation, minerality, finesse, flavour intensity and deep, smooth texture. This is a striking and lovable chardonnay, looking young and fresh two and half years after vintage. Cofield has a few runs on the board with his other wines, so this is a label to watch.

Tscharke Girl Talk Savagnin 2011 $18–20
Marananga, Barossa Valley, South Australia
As cooler areas inexorably dominate production of the crisp, zesty white styles demanded by consumers, warmer areas like the Barossa seek niches to keep their whites relevant. Damien Tscharke pioneered the Spanish variety, albarino, only to find it was savagnin. In the cool 2011 vintage the variety produced a fragrant, refined version of the style, with a modest alcohol level of 12.5 per cent and comparatively low acidity. The mid palate’s soft, juicy and smooth textured with a pleasant savouriness setting it apart from, say, sauvignon blanc or chardonnay.

Rutherglen Estates Viognier Roussanne Marsanne 2009 $29.95
Shelley’s Vineyard, Rutherglen, Victoria
In warm Rutherglen, Rutherglen Estate cultivates the Rhone Valley white varieties, viognier, roussanne and marsanne. Fermented as separate components in oak barrels and later blended, the trio make a full bodied but graceful, soft dry white of great appeal. Viognier gives weight, flavour and texture; roussanne boosts the aroma while mollifying viognier’s tendency to oiliness; and marsanne, say the makers, gives it longevity. It’s a delicious and unique blend, all the better for a couple of years’ bottle age.

Alkoomi Shiraz 2010 $15.89
Frankland River, Great Southern, Western Australia
Merv and Judy Lange established Alkoomi in 1971 and in 2010 handed the reins of the 80,000-case estate to their daughter Sandy and her husband Rod Hallett. Alkoomi’s entry-level shiraz, made from estate-grown fruit, offers vibrant, plummy varietal flavour in the sinewy, savoury, spicy regional style. The medium-bodied wine offers an enjoyable variation on the Australian shiraz theme – quite different in flavour and structure from its cool climate peers in Canberra or warm climate versions from, say, McLaren Vale or the Barossa.

Mitolo Jester Shiraz 2009 $28
McLaren Vale, South Australia
Frank Mitolo sources his Jester shiraz from McLaren Vale’s Willunga subdistrict. Mitolo writes the maritime climate contributes to, “ an even ripening period and the development of rich fruit flavours and ripe tannins”. Mitolo’s words dovetail with the tasting experience of a big, generous, harmonious shiraz full of fresh, ripe fruit flavour and soft tannins. Mitolo matured Jester in older French oak previously used for his flagship G.A.M. Shiraz.

Domain A Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 $70
Coal River Valley, Tasmania
From Tasmania’s pinot country comes this extraordinary cabernet sauvignon made uncompromisingly for long-term cellaring – and without a hint of the green, weedy character we might expect at this latitude. First impressions are of violet-like perfume and concentrated blackcurrant-like flavour, mingled with an assertive oak character (not surprising after 36 months in new French barrels). However, as the wine aerates, the varietal flavour asserts itself at centre stage of an amazing, if idiosyncratic, concentrated, sweet-fruited red of great elegance.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011
First published 2 November 2011 in The Canberra Times