Wine review — Capital Wines and O’Leary Walker

Capital Wines The Abstainer Canberra District Rose 2011 $19
As a show judge I’ve copped my fair share of rose classes – line-ups of wines ranging in colour from pale onion skin to lurid lipstick pink; from cloyingly sweet to achingly dry; and from flabby soft to searingly acid. The better ones, of whatever shade, display fresh fruit flavours, rather than just sweetness, and finish clean and fresh, whether slightly sweet or very dry. The Abstainer, made from early-picked cabernet franc and a touch of merlot, sits at the pinker end of the spectrum and delivers the lovely floral, fruity high notes of cabernet franc, a savoury grippy undercurrent and a refreshing dry finish.

Capital Wines The Swinger Canberra District Sauvignon Blanc 2011 $19
O’Leary Walker Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2011 $16.50–$18

“I’d like to say it’s selling like hotcakes”, writes Capital Wines’ Jennie Mooney, “but it’s more than that, it’s selling like sauvignon blanc”. Here we see two contrasting styles of the white variety currently sweeping all before it. The Swinger (from Lawson Vineyard, Hall) presents a fuller bodied, off-dry, citrusy, still quite tart fresh face of the variety. O’Leary Walker (from the O’Leary Vineyard, Oakbank), at just 11 per cent alcohol, is more aromatic, featuring an intense passionfruit-like character that carries right through a delicate, herbaceous, bone dry palate – finishing with the brisk intensity for fresh lemon juice.

O’Leary Walker Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 $22
This is an exceptional cabernet, sourced from two Clare sub-regions – the Doctor’s block in the cool Polish Hill River area; and 50-year-old, dry-grown vines at Armagh, near Clare township. Winemakers David O’Leary, Nick Walker and Keeda Zim the wine undergoes a spontaneous ferment in small vessels, hand plunging the cap and pumping juice over to break up the cap and control the temperature. A post-ferment maceration on skins helps soften the tannins before the wine’s pressed off into new and used oak barrels for maturation. The result is a deep coloured, aromatic wine of pure cassis-like varietal aroma and flavour, rich mid-palate and firm cabernet tannins.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 29 January 2012 in The Canberra Times