Wine review — Curly Flat, Williams Crossing, Grant Burge, Heartland Wines and Angoves

Curly Flat Williams Crossing Pinot Noir 2008 $24–$27
Curly Flat vineyard, Macedon Ranges, Victoria
Williams Crossing sometimes outscores its more expensive cellar mate at the annual Macedon wine show. As a judge there on several occasions I’ve consistently marked both at the top of the pack, for the simple reason that they deliver the magic of this beautiful variety. Owners Phillip and Jeni Moraghan make every batch of pinot as a candidate for the flagship blend. And the Williams Crossing components fall out only “as a result of a structured barrel classification tasting – 27 per cent of 2008 pinot noir were declassified”, writes Phillip. The declassified barrels comprise this medium bodied pinot of modest alcohol and what can best be described as true “pinosity”.

Curly Flat Pinot Noir 2008 $48–$54
Curly Flat Vineyard, Macedon Ranges, Victoria
This is a great success in a hot, dry vintage. Phillip Moraghan says the mean January temperature, at 22 degrees, exceeded the long-term average by five degrees. The heat continued in February and March, when the temperature exceeded 35 degrees for eight days. The wine bears the vintage thumbprint but not in the most obvious way – as the alcohol’s just 12.6 per cent. The fruit flavour, however, sits more in the dark-berry and than red-berry spectrum. And the firm tannins holding the fruit in check also reflect the warm growing conditions. So, rather than a big, hot wine, we have a fragrant, complex, savoury, elegant pinot with delicious fruit under the taut structure.

Grant Burge The Holy Trinity
Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2008 $28.49–$36

Barossa Valley, South Australia
Grant Burge’s original Holy Trinity, from the 1995 vintage, good as it was, wouldn’t bear comparison to the 2008, despite similar fruit sourcing. It’s a classic Barossa blend, brought to life by the so-called “Rhone rangers” in the 1980s. Restless to improve his, Burge and winemaker Craig Stansborough visited France’s Rhone Valley in 1996. Upon return, they introduced longer maceration on skins, altering the flavour and softening the tannins, and wound back the oak influence – opting for maturation, rather than oak flavour, in older 2,200 litre vessels. In the hot 2008 this means a robust, deeply fruity, supple red with aromatic grenache high notes, shiraz plumpness and savoury, firm mourvedre tannins.

Heartland Wines Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 $17–$20
Langhorne Creek and Limestone Coast, South Australia
Heartland Wines, owned by a consortium of long-term wine industry people, has been a major exporter, with access to the partners’ 210-hectare Langhorne Creek vineyard and 160-hectare Limestone Coast vineyard. Winemaker Ben Glaetzer has wine in his blood, too, with his father, Colin, and father’s twin brother, John (former Wolf Blass maker), both winemakers. Heartland 2009 shows the fruity aromatics of the vintage – quite pure and mulberry-like, in an unmistakably cabernet way, with a sweet kiss of oak. The bright fruit carries to the generous, lively palate, cut by fine tannins. It’s mainly about juicy, drink-now appeal, but has the depth to hold for four or five years.

Heartland Wines Dolcetto Lagrein 2009 $18.95–$22
Langhorne Creek and Limestone Coast, South Australia
Good fruit and very clever winemaking here from Ben Glaetzer, produces unique flavours and enjoyable drinking. It’s a 50:50 blend of the northern Italian varieties dolcetto and lagrein – the former noted for its aromatics and brilliant colour, the latter for its sometimes-intimidating tannins. Glaetzer tames the lagrein tannins, to some degree, by ageing the wine in oak barrels. The dolcetto he keeps in stainless steel to retain its wonderful perfume. The blend is highly perfumed and fruity on the nose; spritely, tart and fresh on the jube-like fruity palate; and finishes with a farewell bite of tannin.

Angoves Vineyard Select Chardonnay 2009 $15–$20
Limestone Coast, South Australia
The older vintage suggests lagging sales, attributable, perhaps, to the sauvignon blanc phenomenon. The press release says (hopefully) “it’s a great example of modern Australian chardonnay from the best region for this variety in South Australia”. In truth, however, it’s in older style that many people love, from a decent, but not cutting edge, chardonnay region. Sourced from vineyards at Padthaway and Cape Jaffa, it offers rich-to-fat melon and peach flavours with an obvious layer of oak. It’s not in the bright, fine and lively modern style at all, but will appeal to the many people who enjoy full-on, plump chardonnays.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011