Wine review — Best’s, Stonier, Stefano Lubiana, Pizzini, Battle of Bosworth and Grant Burge

Best’s Thomson Family Shiraz 2010 – wine of the week $180
Concongella Vineyard, Great Western, Grampians, Victoria

In 1867 Henry Best planted the Concongella vineyard, Great Western. The Thomson family bought the vineyard in 1920 – and today those same shiraz vines, tended by Viv Thomson and family, supply the grapes for this extraordinary red. Much has been written of vine age and wine quality. In this instance we drink the glory of venerable old vines – completely at home in their environment – delivering an elegant wine of enormous, sweet-fruited flavour concentration. Thomson makes only about 300 dozen and only in exceptional years. It’s a great and unique shiraz, capable of long-term cellaring.

Stonier Pinot Noir 2010 $21.80–$28
Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

After a long, difficult struggle from 1978, Brian Stonier eventually made outstanding pinot noir from the early 1990s. Petaluma later took over the business but was itself acquired by brewer, Lion Nathan – now part of Japan’s Kirin Brewery. However, the style and quality of the wines powered through the ownership changes. The latest pinot, sourced from 15 vineyards – all the fruit hand harvested ¬– displays the delicate, refined Stonier style: pale to medium colour; aroma and flavour show red-berry fruit with a savoury pinot seam, backed by fine, silky tannins.

Stefano Lubiana Vintage Brut 2004 $53–$58
Lubiana Vineyard, Granton, Derwent Valley, Tasmania

Lubiana, along with Arras (made by Ed Carr), demonstrate why cool Tasmania became Australia’s bubbly hot spot. It starts with the intense but delicate flavours of the purpose-grown fruit. After that Steve Lubiana’s winemaking and blending skills come into play – capturing the fruit flavour then, through clever blending (55 per cent chardonnay, 45 per cent pinot noir) and almost six years’ maturation in bottle on yeast lees. Like France’s great Champagnes, it’s rich and textured beyond the fruit – because of the winemaking and maturation. But delicate fruit remains at the centre. Indeed, without these the winemaking inputs would add up to nothing.

Pizzini Prosecco 2011 $19
King Valley, Victoria

What an enormous contrast between Pizzini Prosecco and Lubiana 2004, the two sparkling wines reviewed today – the latter a wine of gravitas, to savour and wonder at; the former for happy quaffing. Winemaking simply captures the prosecco grape’s freshness and light, spicy, green-apple tartness. The lightness and tartness make it enjoyable on its own or with pretty well any food – a pleasant backdrop that refreshes the mouth, allowing the food to star.

Battle of Bosworth Shiraz 2010 $19.50–$25
Edgehill Vineyard, McLaren Vale, South Australia

The Bosworth family planted grapes in McLaren Vale in the 1840s. Today Joch Bosworth, with partner Louise Hemsley-Smith, operates the organically certified Edgehill Vineyard, established by Peter and Anthea Bosworth in the 1970s. The vineyard supplies the grapes for their Battle of Bosworth label. Their 2010 shows a savoury, medium bodied side of the regional shiraz style. The colour’s deep, but not opaque; and the aroma presents fruit, spice and savouriness – reflected in the flavours of a rich, savoury, well-structured palate.

Grant Burge Daly Road Shiraz Mourvedre 201o $15.90–$20
Burge Daly Road vineyard, Lyndoch, Barossa Valley, South Australia

If you like full, juicy Barossa wines, you’ll fall in love with Grant Burge’s vibrant, purple-rimmed shiraz mourvedre blend. This is big and ripe but gentle Barossa – capturing the tender, slurpy fruitiness of shiraz, tempered by the savour, spice and firm tannins of mourvedre. The blend is 60 per cent shiraz; 40 per cent mourvedre, all from Burge’s Daly Road vineyard, located near Lyndoch, at the southern end of the Barossa Valley.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 14 March 2012 in The Canberra Times