Wine review — Best’s, Chapel Hill and Good Catholic Girl

Best’s Great Western Riesling 2012  $22.80–$27
The cool 2012 produced beautiful rieslngs in eastern Australia. Those from the Clare heartland are spectacular. Canberra’s best remain austere at present, but the fruit’s there waiting to push through. And this gorgeous wine from Great Western, Victoria, shows the best features of the vintage: beautiful, floral and musk aroma; intense, juicy, mouth-watering, citrus-like varietal flavour; and racy, exhilarating acidity. A small amount of residual sugar fills out the palate, subtly offsetting the high acidity but without apparent sweetness.  The wine comes from Best’s property, including the old Rhymney Vineyard.

Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2011 $16–$18
Winemaker Michael Fragos succeeds with this attractive white in a very difficult vintage. The wet conditions promoted fungal disease and what fruit survived the onslaught tended to show the skinny fruit flavour and high acidity of the cold ripening conditions. But where the fruit ripened properly, the high acidity accentuated the fruit flavour, giving it a pleasantly brisk edge. In Chapel Hill’s blend, we taste ripe, stone-fruit-like varietal flavour on a medium-bodied, smooth textured palate, cut through with fresh acid. This is a long way from the fat, peachy, oaky chardonnays of old. And it weighs in at a modest 12.5 per cent alcohol.

Good Catholic Girl Hail Mary Full of Grace
Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 $25
Jim and Nancy Barry’s three daughters own The Sisters vineyard in Armagh, a Clare Valley sub-region. One of the daughter’s, Julie,  “Head Girl” behind the Good Catholic Girl label, uses cabernet from the vineyard in this wine. It’s a no-holds-barred kind of cabernet, a devil really – deeply coloured, hugely flavoured and with a mouth-gripping dose of cabernet tannins. Despite its mass, it’s a well-balanced red with clear varietal flavour, including a seam of distinctive Clare mintiness. On the quirky back label, Barry dedicates the wine to her Grandmother Dorothy, like herself a good Catholic Girl.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 7 October 2012 in The Canberra Times