Wine review — Jacob’s Creek, Yalumba, Picardy, Coriole, Wynns and Robert Stein

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Chardonnay 2008 $10.90–$17.99
Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Reflecting the growing trend to regional marketing, Jacob’s Creek, part of French-owned Pernod-Ricard, recently moved to regional labelling on its reserve range. The range was originally launched in 2000 as multi-region blends. They’ve always hit the sweet spot for quality and value – especially during bursts of sharp retail discounting. The re-badged reserve chardonnay delivers exceptionally high quality at the price. It’s bright, fresh and young, albeit plump, at three years and reveals appealing citrus and ripe-peach flavours of Adelaide Hills chardonnay, enhanced by oak fermentation and maturation.

Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache 2009 $17–21.95
Barossa, South Australia
Yalumba captures grenache beautifully in this realistically priced version, sourced from low-yielding Barossa bush vines. It’s a blend of many batches, crushed and fermented separately and aged in four to six year old French, American and Hungarian oak barrels. These provide an oxidative maturation environment without inserting overt woody tastes. The result is a highly aromatic, deeply fruity, slightly spicy, moderately savoury, silk-smooth, soft red to enjoy right now. It avoids the confection character sometimes seen in grenache.

Picardy Pinot Noir 2009 $38
Picardy Vineyard, Pemberton, Western Australia
Picardy was the palest coloured wine in a recent small line up of pinots – one each from Martinborough and Marlborough, New Zealand, plus Yarra Valley, Tasmania and Pemberton, Australia. Behind the deceptively pale colour, though, lurked an exceptionally delicious pinot noir. The penetrating aroma combined a stalkiness, presumably from whole-bunch fermentation, with a gaminess and ripe-cherry fruit. The palate really sang – lively and fresh and mouth-wateringly delicious, with an intensity belying the pale colour. Made by Dan Pannell, son of Bill Pannell, founder of Moss Wood, Margaret River, and later Picardy.

Coriole Sangiovese Shiraz 2009 $16
McLaren Vale, South Australia
Coriole was an early Australia pioneer of the Italian red variety, sangiovese, establishing vines at McLaren Vale in 1985. It’s now one of the leading producers of the style – reaching a notable high point with its Reserve Sangiovese 2007. Here, though, we see comparatively austere, tannic, savoury sangiovese mollified by plush and juicy shiraz. Shiraz fattens out the palate nicely, but the tight, dry, savoury sangiovese tannins have the final say. These work particularly well with savoury food like olives and tomato-based sauces.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Chardonnay 2011 $16–22.99
Coonawarra, South Australia
Coonawarra’s cool enough to make decent, if not cutting edgy chardonnay. And winemakers Sue Hodder and Sarah Pidgeon rightly capture the region’s bright melon-rind, peach and nectarine-like varietal flavours in a drink-now, not overworked style. Pidgeon says they ferment and mature around half of the blend in oak barrels and the other half in stainless steel tanks – of that ,they clean up a portion when it’s pristine, fresh and fruity; the remainder they allow to sit on yeast lees, gaining texture. The final blend is zingy fresh, with clear varietal flavour and a rich, smooth texture. It’s made for early drinking.

Robert Stein Harvest Gold 2009$25 375ml
Mudgee, New South Wales
This is an estate-grown wine made by Jacob Stein from semillon grapes affected by the fungus, botrytis cinerea (aka, noble rot). The fungus looks disgusting, but in some circumstances creates extraordinary sweet wines by dehydrating grape berries, thus concentrating their sugars, acids and flavours. In this version, modelled broadly on the stickies of Bordeaux, we taste intense apricot and marmalade-like flavour of stunning sweetness – but without the offsetting acidity seen in Bordeaux versions. It’s nevertheless a luscious wine, probably best suited to stinky, runny cheeses.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011
First published 27 July 2011 in The Canberra Times