Wine review — Paxton, Toolangi, Pikes, Yealands Way, Port Phillip Estate and Yalumba

Paxton Quandong Farm Shiraz 2010 $21–$30
Quandong Farm, McLaren Vale, South Australia
David Paxton’s biodynamic management of Quandong Farm, located in McLaren Vale’s Seaview Road, focuses on “soil health, bio-diversity and non-chemical weed control”, he writes. All of which he directs at producing excellent grapes – with the flavours displayed in this beautiful shiraz. It has pure, vibrant fruit, great depth, distinctive McLaren Vale savouriness and plush ripe, soft tannins that complete the red wine picture. This is a wonderful, generous warm climate shiraz that seduces rather than overwhelms.

Toolangi Chardonnay 2009 $25
Dixon’s Creek and Yarra Glen, Yarra Valley, Victoria
Garry and Julie Hounsell own the Toolangi vineyard but also source grapes from other Yarra sites controlled by their own viticulturist. They outsource the winemaking, in this instance to Willy Lunn at nearby Yering Station. It’s a fine, restrained, delicious example of modern cool-climate chardonnay – with the focus on white-peach-like varietal flavour subtly adorned with the structural and flavour inputs of barrel fermentation and maturation.

Pikes Traditionale Riesling 2011 $20–$23
Polish Hill River, Watervale and Sevenhill, Clare Valley
Pikes is another outstanding 2011 riesling, characterised, writes winemaker Neil Pike, by “amazing natural acidity and excellent varietal definition of the fruit. The only time in my 30 or so vintages in Clare that we did not have to acid adjust the musts”. The natural high acidity accentuates the intense mineral and lime-like varietal flavour and adds delicacy and length to the clean, dry finish.

Yealands Way Premium Selection Pinot Noir 2010 $19–$21
Marlborough and Central Otago, New Zealand
Last week’s feature story mentioned the growing availability of good, modestly-priced pinot noirs rolling in from New Zealand – wines like Yealands Way. The 2010 vintage, combining material from Marlborough and Central Otago, provides pleasant, medium-bodied drinking, with plummy varietal flavours and a tight backbone of fine, savoury tannins. It’s available at Jim Murphy’s, Candamber, Canberra Cellars and Local Liquor, Hughes and Kingston. Yealands belongs to Peter Yealands a pioneer of mussel farming and a successful large-scale deer farmer before venturing into wine production.

Port Phillip Estate Pinot Noir 2010 $38
Red Hill, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
Winemaker Sandro Mosele sources this from a single estate vineyard planted in 1988. He de-stems the fruit (many pinot makers include stems) and allows the wine to ferment spontaneously before moving it to French oak for 16 months. The resulting wine displays vibrant red-berry varietal flavour with a unique, earthy, pinot undertone. These flavours come through on the palate and, with aeration, the flavours and texture expand under the tight framework of fine pinot tannins.

Yalumba The Strapper Grenache Shiraz Mataro 2010 $18–$22
Barossa, South Australia
Yalumba really nails Barossa wine styles now – capturing the distinctive, generous, ripe fruit flavours, while avoiding over-ripe porty character or the over-extracted, over-oaked styles that predominated for a while. In this classic blend, made by Kevin Glastonbury, we’re seduced by fragrant, floral grenache high notes, then satisfied by the full, juicy, slurpy palate and dry but soft, earthy finish. Shiraz fills out the palate; mataro (aka mourvedre) delivers the earthy tannins.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011
First published 23 November 2011 in The Canberra Times