Wine review — Helm, All Saints and Punt Road

Helm Canberra District Cabernet Shiraz 2008 $35
Ken Helm says he’s back to where he started in 1979 with this charming blend of cabernet sauvignon and shiraz. Back then, says Ken, it was a blend of necessity – the only red grapes available for his first vintage. This time around it’s an intentional blend, sourced from mature vines on Virginia Rawling’s neighbouring vineyard. It’s a soft, easy drinking elegant red built on vibrant, fresh, berry fruit flavours. Cabernet provides a fine backbone of tannin and shiraz gently fleshes out the mid palate. There’s oak in the equation, too, but playing an appropriate support role to the fruit.

All Saints Rutherglen Shiraz 2009 $25
St Leonards Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2010 $26
Some years back Peter Brown of Brown Brothers, Milawa, bought the historic All Saints winery. Following his death, his children carry on the venture, making bright modern wines, some new, some traditional. Their shiraz is a modern take on an old local classic. It’s particularly fragrant, with attractive sweet, fruity high notes that carry through to a bright, fresh, full-flavoured palate. A load of firm tannin then asserts itself, in a reassuring Rutherglen kind of way. The cabernet franc, on the other hand, is medium bodied, featuring herbal and savoury flavours with a gently tannic finish.

Punt Road Yarra Valley Airlie Bank

  • Chardonnay 2009 $18
  • Pinot Noir 2009 $18

I was at a pinot noir conference on the Mornington Peninsula in February 2009 when the Yarra winemakers dashed home to fight bushfires engulfing their vineyards. It’s a wonder after the intense heatwave, culminating the fire, that the Yarra makers produced any wine at all, let alone as appealing as these two, made by Kate Goodman. The chardonnay is at the taut, lemony end of the varietal spectrum, with a delicious acidic, leesy bite. The light bodied pinot noir delivers savoury varietal flavour, a smooth texture and lean, tannic bite. These are understated wines that grow on you.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011