Wine review — Shelmerdine, Campbells and Houghton

Shelmerdine Heathcote Viognier 2010 $23–$26
Viognier, a white variety noted for its cameo role in some northern Rhone Valley reds, and the sometimes glorious whites of Condrieu, enjoys several identities in Australia, too. As a straight white wine it ranges from big, fat and alcoholic with a distinctive apricot-like flavour, to more restrained, slow-evolving versions like those Nick Spencer makes at Eden Road Winery. Shelmerdine’s sits in between these styles. It’s big and alcoholic, but exuberant, juicy and vibrant rather than fat. It’s intensely aromatic with zesty apricot and nectarine-like flavours and a sweetish, vibrant, slightly grippy finish.

Campbells Bobbie Burns Rutherglen Shiraz 2009 $19.95–$23.40
I missed Campbell’s recent retrospective 40-vintage Bobbie Burns tasting, but Colin and Malcolm Campbell say the wines held up well and “the vintages from 2004 onwards shone with notable consistency and quality”. Certainly the 2009 scrubs up – starting with the lovely fruit perfume evident in so many 2009 reds from across eastern Australia. The palate’s vibrantly fruity and ripe without pushing into “porty” territory. Although it’s soft and easy to drink, there’s ample tannin providing structure, with oak subtly in the background. This is a long way removed from the old-time, ballsy, gum-crunching Rutherglen shiraz styles.

Houghton Wisdom Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 and Frankland River Shiraz 2009 $30–$35
Thomas Hardy and Sons (Houghton’s owner) became BRL Hardy, then The Hardy Wine Company, then Constellation Wines Australia – now owned (after a mass sell off of vineyards and wineries by its American parent company) by CHAMP Private Equity. This was all very unsettling because some brands lost the vineyards and wineries they were based on. Fortunately, the two new-release Houghton reds remain superb regional specialties. The medium-bodied shiraz has a core of ripe fruit, overlaid with Frankland River’s spicy, savoury notes and fine tannins. The Margaret River wine delivers cabernet’s classic cedar, black-olive and herbal aromas on a generous, elegantly structured palate.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011