Wine review – Coriole, Howard Park, Tapanappa, Domaine A and Yalumba

Coriole Sangiovese 2010 $19–$25
McLaren Vale, South Australia
Mark Lloyd established sangiovese at Coriole in 1985. Over the years the style evolved as Lloyd learned how to manage this native Italian variety. It now appears very comfortable in its skin – a medium bodied red with a core of sweet fruit pulsing under the variety’s more savoury flavours and fine, persistent tannin structure. It’s a subtle, understated red that holds your interest glass after glass. The gentle flavours and medium body belie its 14 per cent alcohol.

Coriole Fiano 2011 $20–$22
McLaren Vale, South Australia
Mark Lloyd discovered fiano in 2000 at Vinitaly, Verona’s annual wine trade show. He writes that he’d been “looking for a white variety from southern Italy that would suit the climate of McLaren Vale”. Impressed by fiano’s aromatics, flavour and texture, Lloyd planted the variety in 2003 and bottled the wine from it separately from 2005. It offers a unique drinking experience, with a fresh melon-like aroma and flavour, a plump, smoothly textured mid palate and a bright, fresh, citrusy finish.

Howard Park Flint Rock Pinot Noir 2010 $23–$27
Great Southern, Western Australia
Western Australia’s vast Great Southern region, tempered by cool southerly breezes blasting in from the Antarctic, pushes out the odd decent pinot noir. The best I’ve seen come from a joint venture between Howard Park owner, Jeff Burch, and Burgundy winemaker, Pascal Marchand. Flint Rock no doubt benefits from this venture, delivering pure, varietal, red-berry characters, meshed with pinot’s spicy and savoury elements and rich, silky texture.

Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard Merlot Cabernet Franc 2007 $80
Whalebone Vineyard, Wrattonbully, South Australia

Whalebone Vineyard, named for a fossilised whale skeleton in the limestone beneath it, was planted by John Greenshields in 1974 and purchased by Tapanappa, a joint venture led by Brian Croser, in 2002. This is the first release of a merlot-cabernet franc blend, inspired by the wines of Bordeaux’s St Emilion sub-region. Ripe, sweet, pure, plummy-earthy merlot dominates the aroma, with an attractive floral lift probably from the cabernet franc. The palate reflects the aroma, with juicy, plummy, earthy merlot at the centre and merlot’s assertive tannins ameliorated by the gentler cabernet franc.

Domaine A Lady A Sauvignon Blanc 2008 $60
Domaine A vineyard, Coal River Valley, Tasmania
Lady A floats aloof and elegant above the field of me-too sauvignon blancs. She combines great purity and intensity of varietal character with an unobtrusive complexity derived from fermentation and maturation in new French oak barrels. Domaine A proprietor, Peter Althaus writes, “I first made this wine in secret for my wife in 1996 as a birthday surprise – she’s a lover of the Pavilion Blanc from Chateau Margaux [Bordeaux]”. Althaus continues to make small quantities of the wine in good seasons. What a glorious, distinctive, unique white it is.

Yalumba Vermentino 2011 $12–$15
Reichstein Vineyard, Renmark, Murray River, South Australia

Italy’s white vermentino grows successfully in Australia’s hot, dry regions, giving growers there some chance of competing with varieties like sauvignon blanc that perform best in cool areas, including Marlborough, New Zealand, and Adelaide Hills, Australia. Yalumba takes the right approach with vermentino, bringing it to market young, fresh and devoid of winemaking frills. It’s a bright, fresh, zesty white with a modest alcohol of 11.5 per cent. However, the palate’s already thickening up, suggesting very early drinking.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011
First published 9 November 2011 in The Canberra Times