Wine review — Rutherglen Estate, Leogate, Maipenrai, Leasingham and Fox Gordon

Rutherglen Estate Savagnin 2010 $16.95
Rutherglen, Victoria

Like other Australian winemakers Rutherglen Estate planted the Spanish white variety albarino only to learn that the CSIRO, source of all our stock, had been given savagnin by the Spanish supplier. Savagnin is the non-muscat clone of gewürztraminer and to smell and taste the two is to be puzzled why they have identical DNA but taste so very different. This is a lovely, bone dry, low alcohol white with floral aroma, vibrant, citrusy palate, rich texture and savoury finish.

Leogate Early Release Reserve Chardonnay 2010 $25
Brokenback Vineyard, Lower Hunter Valley, New South Wales

Bill and Vicki Widin recently acquired the beautiful Brokenback vineyard, located at the foot of the Brokenback Range. They bought part of it from Foster’s and part of it from Tyrrell’s, thus reuniting what had originally been a single vineyard acquired by Rothbury Estate in 1969. Read the full story at as you sip this delicate but full-bodied chardonnay. It’s deliciously varietal, spritely and fresh but still has a subtle background complexity from partial maturation on yeast lees in oak barrels.

Maipenrai Pinot Noir 2008 $27
Sutton, Canberra District, New South Wales

What an exciting pinot – the best I’ve seen from Canberra, and at three barrels probably the smallest production wine likely to be reviewed in this column. Yep, just three barrels “made up of fruit from our MV6, 777, 114 and 115 clones”, writes winemaker Brian Schmidt. Maipenrai delivers most of pinot’s great features: limpid colour; high-toned perfume, combined with varietal fruit, savouriness and a hint of stalkiness; similar fruity, savoury, stalky flavour; luxurious, silky texture; and a decent line of tannin holding it all together. See

Leasingham Schobers Vineyard Shiraz 2006 $62.50
Schobers vineyard, Clare Valley, South Australia

Some readers might recall Leasingham Classic Clare Shiraz 1994, winner of the 1995 Jimmy Watson trophy – a solid wine, big on fruit, tannin, colour and oak. It was sourced from the Schobers vineyard. Later, under Steve Pannell, the style evolved considerably, resulting in a clearer expression of the vineyard’s vivid fruit and subtler, more complimentary use of oak. The limited release 2006, made by Kerri Thompson and Simon Osicka, is a wonderfully polished, elegant wine, capturing deep, bright, sweet, ripe, spicy shiraz flavours completely integrated with subtle oak. It’s looking young and fresh at five years, but won’t appear again under the Leasingham label.

Leasingham Schobers Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 $62.50
Schobers vineyard, Clare Valley, South Australia

What on earth will the new owners of the Leasingham brand do? They own the name but not the winery or key vineyards like Schobers that stood behind the brand. They might taste this glorious cabernet as they ponder the future of a brand stripped of its roots. There’s a touch of mint in the evocative, pure cabernet aroma – a note that comes through, too, in the lively, juicy flavour of this elegant, fine, deeply flavoured wine. The Schobers vineyard, however, is carrying on under the ownership of Canberra’s Jim Murphy and Michael Phelps, with wines being made by O’Leary Walker, Clare Valley. Future vintages will appear under their new Schobers label.

Fox Gordon Princess Fiano 2011 $16–$20
Adelaide Hills, South Australia

There’s an interesting style contrast between this fiano (a variety from Campania, Italy), grown in the cool Adelaide Hills, and the warm-grown version from Rutherglen Estate reviewed last week. Fox Gordon’s version, made by Tash Mooney, offers greater concentration of fruit flavour and a particularly racy, acid backbone. It’s savoury and, in the Italian style, packs a piquant bite in the finish. Mooney makes this one for Coles’ Vintage Cellars and 1st Choice chains.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011