Wine review — Louee Wines, Yering Station, Jacob’s Creek, Paxton, Innocent Bystander and Terra a Terre

Louee Nullo Mountain Riesling 2010 $25
Rylstone, New South Wales

It’s just 50 kilometres from Mudgee (450 metres) but Nullo Mountain vineyard sits at 1,100 metres. At that altitude grapes develop varietal flavour at low sugar levels while retaining spine-tingling acidity that’d make a German vigneron smile. Over at Mudgee David Lowe helps these wonderful grapes become intense, delicate, low-alcohol wines. There’s the brisk, lemony, 10.5 per cent alcohol, bone-dry version made for the long haul but wonderful now, too. And there’s the sinfully pleasurable 12-per-cent alcohol late-picked version – lush and sweet, combining lemony varietal flavour with apricot-like tang of botrytis and drying, cleansing acidity.

Yering Station Shiraz Viognier 2008 $28
Yarra Valley, Victoria

Alcohol in red wine is a hot topic. But it’s surprising how little a wine’s alcohol content tells you about its aroma, flavour or structure. For example, this cool-climate shiraz is a world apart from the warm-grown Jacob’s Creek Barossa wine reviewed here today. Yet both weigh in at 14.5 per cent alcohol. For Yering Station, that’s partly the result of a hot vintage. But even so it’s a cool-climate shiraz to its boots – concentrated, for sure, but medium bodied, spicy and peppery with a supple and soft but still tannic palate.

Jacob’s Creek Centenary Hill Shiraz 2006 $60
Jacob’s Creek and Rowland Flat, Barossa Valley, South Australia

A decade ago, with an eye to evolving markets, Jacob’s Creek introduced a “reserve” range. About five years later they added to the brand several super premium wines that’d lived under other Orlando labels. Appropriately that included the flagship Centenary Hill shiraz sourced from three old shiraz blocks on Jacob’s Creek (yes, it really exists) and an old block at nearby Rowland Flat. The 2006 is a highly aromatic wine combining the immense power and chocolaty richness of Barossa shiraz with an attractive spicy overlay, probably resulting from cool breezes flowing down the creek.

Paxton Tempranillo 2009 $23
Thomas Block and Landcross Farm vineyards, McLaren Vale, South Australia

Yum. Very drinkable. And surprising for warm McLaren Vale, Paxton Tempranillo tastes ripe but weighs in at just 12 per cent alcohol – a rare feat in Australia.  Our makers generally sweat on flavour ripeness as sugar levels (and hence potential alcohol levels) climb ever higher. David Paxton says the wine underwent extended maceration on skins to build structure and flavour. Maturation in older barrels gave mellowness but not obvious oak flavour. The style is medium bodied and soft featuring sweet but savoury berry flavours.

Innocent Bystander Pinot Gris 2010 $19
Yarra Valley, Victoria

Innocent Bystander’s latest pinot gris offers fresh and pure, if subtle, pear-like varietal character, backed by a fine, silky textural richness. This textural richness comes from maturation on yeast lees both in tank and in older oak barrels – executed so well that there’s no overt oakiness. Without the texture there might be little to the wine. But the combination of subtle flavour and rich texture add up to a very enjoyable drink. The grapes come from the cool upper Yarra Valley.

Terra a Terre Sauvignon Blanc 2010 $25
Wrattonbully, South Australia

Ah, no, not another bloody sauv blanc. Bloody cat’s pee. Whoa, hold on. Oh, ahhh, mmmm. Wow. This is Lucy Croser’s and Xavier Bizot’s Australian take on a sauvignon blanc style made by leading small makers in Sancerre, France. It’s barrel fermented and matured in a way that builds texture and body and mutes varietal exuberance while retaining an exciting acid-driven vivacity. Terre a Terre may mean down to earth. But this is heavenly stuff (for sauv blanc) from a daughter of Brian Croser (founder of Petaluma and Tapanappa) and a scion of France’s Bollinger family. These two have wine in the veins.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011