Wine review — Rutherglen Estates, Bowen Estate and Jim Barry

Rutherglen Estates Rutherglen Durif 2008 $19–$21.95
This is a comparatively tame expression of durif, a variety noted for its impenetrable colour, colossal tannins and high alcohol – endearing features to its die-hard fans. The estate’s marketing manager, Patrick Gehrig writes the wine, “is deliberately picked at varying levels of ripeness, not only to maximise the broad spectrum of flavours and aromas that the variety can display, but produce balanced, well structured and refined wine without the excessive alcohol levels which durif is often associated with”. It’s refreshing to find such a forthright and honest press release. It captures the essence of this big, warm, tannic but soft red.

Bowen Estate Coonawarra Shiraz 2009 $27.55–$30
There’s been some criticism of high alcohol in Australian red wines. It’s a complex subject, as even comparatively low-alcohol wines can appear hot and alcoholic, while in others like this beautiful Bowen Estate shiraz, high alcohol (15 per cent) simply disappears without trace into the sweet, ripe, supple fruit. It might be big, but it’s still graceful and elegant – a great joy to drink now and probably for a decade or more into the future. It seems even juicier and fruitier than the previous vintage. It’s made by father and daughter team Doug and Emma Bowen and at the bigger end of the current Coonawarra shiraz spectrum.

Jim Barry Clare Valley

  • Lodge Hill Riesling 2011 $16–$20
  • Watervale Riesling 2011 $13.99–$18

In a generally flat riesling market, Peter Barry reports a 40 per cent increase in riesling sales over the last year. He crows, too, about 2011, “as a wonderful vintage in Clare for riesling”. Now we can judge for ourselves in these two rieslings from the Barry family estate – one for the elevated Lodge Hill vineyard near Clare township, the other from the Florita vineyard at Watervale in the valley’s south. The Lodge Hill wine shows lemony varietal flavour, delicacy and length. The Watervale wine seems more minerally with some background lime-like flavours. Both impress for their delicacy and lively acidity – features of this cool vintage.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011
First published 28 August 2011 in The Canberra Times