Wine review — Cumulus Wines, Dopf au Moulin, Voyager Estate, Coolangatta Estate, Ingram Road and Barwang

Cumulus Wines Climbing Pinot Gris 2011 $18–$22
Orange, New South Wales
The difficult, wet and cool 2011 vintage caused much devastation in vineyards across Australia. However, some white varieties, including pinot gris, seem to have benefited from the cool conditions – for example, in the recent local wine show, Mount Majura Vineyard won a gold medal for its 2011. And over in even cooler Orange, Cumulus wines harvested this scrumptious, bronze-tinted drop. Winemaker Debbie Lauritz really captures the character of this often-lacklustre variety – fresh and intense, with pear-like flavour and rich, slightly viscous texture.

Dopf au Moulin Riesling 2010 $13.29–$16
Alsace, France
Dopf, based in the beautiful old village of Riquewihr on the Rhine River, makes a notably fuller, more viscous style of riesling than in its counterparts further north on the German stretches of the Rhine or its tributary, the Mosel. This slightly sweet riesling, imported by Woolworths (available at its Dan Murphy’s or BWS outlets), appeals for its gentle sweetness, smooth texture and unique flavour – recognisably riesling but interestingly different than Australian versions. It’s a good aperitif and also works with spicy food.

Voyager Estate Girt By Sea Cabernet Merlot 2009 $19–$24
Margaret River, Western Australia
As several of Margaret River’s top cabernet blends now push to $100 or so, Girt by Sea delivers an affordable and delightful, drink-now expression of the region’s great red specialty. Blended principally from cabernet and merlot (with a splash each of shiraz and malbec), it’s a rich but elegant, fine-boned red, based on just-ripe, mulberry-like varietal flavour, with an attractive overly of cedar and tobacco-like character that seems to come partly from the oak and partly from the varietal blend.

Coolangatta Estate Tempranillo 2009 $35
Shoalhaven Coast, New South Wales
In the Canberra Regional Show 2011, this wine top scored in its class, winning a gold medal and proceeding to the “other red varieties” trophy taste-off. The Canberra gong added to the gold medal and four trophies won in the 2010 Kiama Regional Wine Show. Like Coolangatta’s wonderful semillons, the tempranillo is estate grown but made in the Hunter Valley by Tyrrell’s – clearly a successful arrangement. This is a fresh, vibrant and medium-bodied tempranillo, seamlessly combining sweet and savoury fruit with soft, persistent tannins.

Ingram Road Chardonnay 2010 $18–$20
Helen’s Hill Vineyard, Coldstream, Yarra Valley, Victoria
Ingram Road is the second label of Helen’s Hill Estate. Like the premium wine, it’s estate grown. Winemaker Scott McCarthy says it’s wild yeast fermented in a mix of new (10 per cent) and older French oak barrels, undergoes a partial, spontaneous, malo-lactic fermentation and matures in barrel for about 10 months. Those winemaking inputs simply add spice and texture to a stunningly fresh, vibrant chardonnay based on delicious, citrus and white-peach varietal flavours.

Barwang Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 $13.90–$19.99
Hilltops region, New South Wales
Peter Robertson founded Barwang, the first vineyard near Young, in 1969 but sold the vineyards to McWilliams in 1989. McWilliams extended the plantings and over the years took the Barwang and Hilltops name to drinkers across the country. It’s an important brand for the region because of its reach. If the Hilltops winemaking high ground has been taken over by small makers like Clonakilla and Eden Road, Barwang continues to make excellent wines at fair prices. Their 2009 cabernet is impressive for a red under $20 ¬– packing in absolutely lovely, mulberry-like varietal flavour and retaining cabernet’s distinctive, firm structure.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011
First published 5 October 2011 in The Canberra Times