Wine review — d’Arenberg, Jim Barry and Innocent Bystander

d’Arenberg Stump Jump Adelaide Hills McLaren Vale Sauvignon Blanc 2010 $10.79–$11.99
The great flood of New Zealand sauvignon blanc flowing into Australia must scare the pants off Australian winemakers. It’s not just the depressed prices, but also the fact that great swathes of Australian vineyards lie in areas not well suited to producing a competing style. And where we do grow sauvignon blanc well, yields tend to be low and production prices commensurately high. d’Arenberg cleverly leaps this hurdle by blending intensely varietal Adelaide Hills sauvy with presumably cheaper McLaren Vale material. The blend works well, delivering vibrant, fresh passionfruit-like varietal flavour at a competitive price.

Jim Barry Watervale (Clare Valley)

  • Riesling 2010 $14.25–$16.95
  • Lavender Hill Sweet Riesling 2010 $13.45–$14.95

No matter how much we talk up riesling, it remains a stubbornly niche variety delivering wonderful flavours at bargain prices. In this pair, both from the Clare Valley’s Watervale sub-region, we see contrasting sweet and dry styles. The dry version captures the sub-region’s unique lime-like varietal flavours and delicacy. It’s a great aperitif wine, with potential to fill out and take on attractive honeyed flavours with bottle age. Lavender Hill, with 22 grams of residual grape sugar to the litre, shows the regional lime-like flavours but with a considerable sweetness, balanced by crisp, fresh acidity.

Innocent Bystander Victoria Syrah 2009 $16.95–$22.95
Innocent Bystander is the second label of Giant Steps Winery, located at Healesville in Victoria’s Yarra Valley. The appellation “Victoria” simply indicates sourcing from a number of Victorian regions – presumably cooler ones by the style of this very attractive shiraz. If the deep, crimson colour suggests a burly wine, the spicy, savoury aroma immediately points the other way. The palate supports this message with its savoury, slightly funky flavours, and supple, fine-textured, soft tannins – complexities and textures consistent with wild-yeast fermentation in open vats, whole bunches in the ferments and extend pre-fermentation maceration.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011