Wine review — Mr Mick, Howard Park, Paxton, Spinifex, Seville Estate and Knappstein

Mr Mick Shiraz 2009 $15
Sheoaks and St Clare Vineyards, Clare Valley, South Australia
One Friday last January winemaker Tim Adams and wife Pam Goldsack became the first private owners of Clare Valley’s Leasingham Winery since H. J. Heinz acquired it from the Knappstein family in 1971. Though this year’s American seller, Constellation Wines, retained the Leasingham name, Adams and Goldsack’s first wines retain an historic connection – saluting Mick Knappstein, legendary Leasingham winemaker (and a young Tim’s boss and mentor 36 years ago). The wine captures the essence of Clare shiraz in the 2009 vintage – fragrant, full, juicy and rich with just the right amount of spicy, soft tannins.

Howard Park Miamup Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 $23–$27
Northern Margaret River, Western Australia
Jeff and Amy Burch’s Howard Park produces a wide range of flawless-to-exciting wines from vineyards in Western Australia’s Margaret River and Great Southern regions. Their Miamup cabernet, targeted at restaurants and independent retailers, captures the riper end of Margaret River’s crystal-clear varietal flavour (violets and blackberries) with a touch of cedary oak and decent load of soft cabernet tannins. It’s a very sophisticated, drink-now cabernet built on superb fruit.

Paxton Tempranillo 2010 $18–23
McLaren Vale, South Australia
The Paxton family’s seven vineyards form an arc around the township of McLaren Vale. Visit and you can see the source of this tempranillo – the Thomas Block and Landcross Farm – clearly excellent vineyards judging by wine flavour. The alcohol content is low for warm McLaren, at 12.5 per cent, yet the flavours are full and ripe, with supple, sweet fruit. True to the variety and the Vale, the fruit’s cut with firm, persistent tannins and there’s a deep, earthy-savoury note to the flavour.

Spinifex Bete Noir Shiraz 2009 $36
Barossa and Eden Valleys, South Australia
This brilliant wine comes from husband and wife team Peter Schell and Magali Gely. It captures the unique richness and softness of Barossa shiraz in a restrained, medium-bodied way, completely masking the 14.5 per cent alcohol. The intense aroma leads for a moment with bright, black-cherry-like fruit but quickly incorporates savoury, spicy, complex, earthy characters. All of this comes through on a rich, supple, bright and also savoury palate of unusual dimension and complexity. Available at

Seville Estate The Barber Chardonnay 2010 $18–$20
Yarra Valley, Victoria
Seville’s Barber range complements its estate-grown wines while still offering an expression of Yarra Valley flavours. The 2010 chardonnay, made from both contract and estate-grown fruit, presents pure, tingly cool-climate varietal flavours (citrus and melon rind) in a bright, refreshing drink now style. It has good mid-palate richness and texture, but the focus never moves from the zesty fruit. Made by Dylan McMahon.

Knappstein Hand Picked Riesling 2011 $15–$20
Watervale, Southern Clare Valley, South Australia
I’ve seen quite a few different styles of rieslings from the 2011 vintage – generally sharing high acidity (a product of the cool season) but some looking atypically fruity as well, and others showing the flavours, and sometimes the sweetness, associated with botrytis (a product of the wet). Knappstein’s sits at the more delicate end of the spectrum, showing Watervale’s unique lime-like flavours and the racy acidity of the season. It’s bone dry with the understated power of really good riesling.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011
First published 19 October 2011 in The Canberra Times