Wine review — Andrew Thomas, Under and Over and Brown Brothers

Thomas Sweetwater Hunter Valley Shiraz 2010 $35
Thomas Motel Block Shiraz 2010 $50

Hunter winemaker Andrew Thomas recently released four single vineyard shirazes from the 2010 vintage – delicious variants on the earthy, medium-bodied Hunter theme. The delightfully named Sweetwater, from Belford, offers floral aromas and a juicy, fleshy, soft palate – lovely to drink now but probably good to cellar for up to a decade. The dry-grown vines on Motel Block vineyard, planted in 1967, produce a more concentrated, firmer wine than Sweetwater. It retains the unmistakable earthy, sweet flavours of Hunter Shiraz and the medium body. The combination of sweet, powerful fruit and firm tannins may preserve this wine for decades.

Under and Over Heathcote Shiraz 2010 $11–$13
Under and Over is a McWilliams brand comprising three regional specialties – pinot gris from the King Valley Victoria, chardonnay from Tumbarumba NSW and this shiraz from Heathcote, Victoria. Vignerons in the region, McWilliams included, make much of the “ancient Cambrian soils”. But this is a loosely used term and, most certainly, the soils haven’t been lying around on the surface since the Cambrian era 500 million years ago. (For a geologist’s overview, see A comment on the red soils of Heathcote Heathcote by David Farmer). With equal certainty the region grows beautiful shiraz, including this bright, savoury, grippy, medium bodied style made by Nicholas Crampton and Corey Ryan.

Brown Brothers Single Vineyard Heathcote Shiraz 2010 $23–$30
In its search for grapes suited to modern table wines, Brown Brothers wandered far from its base at Milawa, on the hot Oxley Plains. They initially pushed south to the higher, cooler reaches of the King Valley. But in the nineties, they established a vineyard on the Mount Camel Range, in Victoria’s Heathcote region – source of this appealing red. What do you get for about double the price of the other Heathcote shiraz reviewed today? Well, not double the quality, but a significant lift – principally in the sweeter, more concentrated fruit flavour and finer, silkier tannin structure.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 10 June 2012 in The Canberra Times