Wine review — Collector, Peter Lehmann, Punt Road, Kangarilla Road and Red Knot by Shingleback

Collector Reserve Shiraz 2011 $58
Kyeema and Fischer vineyards
Murrumbateman, Canberra District, New South Wales

The first 2011 Canberra shiraz to hit the tasting bench sets the bar very, very high indeed. Showing the cool season, it’s a lean, elegant style, backed by intense, pepper and red-berry varietal flavours and succulent tannin. Decanted, splashed and tasted over several days, the wine retained its brilliant colour and beautiful freshness – yielding layers of flavour. It’s definitely one for the cellar. Winemaker Alex McKay says because of pent-up demand (there was no 2010) he’s releasing it early – in the first week of July. He’ll release the cheaper Marked Tree Shiraz 2011 in August.

Collector Lamplit Marsanne 2011 $32.95
Fischer and Rosehill vineyards,
Murrumbateman, Canberra District, New South Wales
Like the Ravensworth marsanne reviewed here recently, Alex McKay’s Lamplit points to Rhone Valley white varieties as better bets than chardonnay for Canberra vignerons. It’s a pleasing and sophisticated wine – savoury, richly textured (but not fat) and underpinned by a gently, citrusy varietal flavour, subtly meshed with a pleasing character derived from barrel ageing on yeast lees. The slightly fuller and rounder (but now sold out 2010) indicates benefits from bottle ageing – and that this could be a slow and graceful evolution. McKay says both wines underwent full malo-lactic fermentation, adding texture, and the 2011 contains a splash each of viognier and roussanne.

Peter Lehmann Wigan Riesling 2006 $28.49–$32
Eden Valley, South Australia
Peter Lehmann’s glorious aged riesling comes from “a single vineyard from the southern end of Eden Valley, with an elevation of some 500 metres and shallow rocky soils”, says winemaker Andrew Wigan. He rates the 2006 season, “one of the greatest white wine vintages the Barossa has ever seen”. We can’t argue. It pours a glowing, green-tinted, pale golden colour; the aroma reveals the pleasing toasty overlay of bottle age on the deep, delicate lime and lemon varietal flavours. It’s a beautiful wine – a delight to drink now and likely to provide pleasure for another decade or more.

Punt Road Chemin Syrah 2010 $39
Block 5, Napoleone Vineyard, Yarra Valley, Victoria
Kate Goodman’s striking red pushes the boundary on Australian shiraz. Its medium body, fine structure and peppery, spicy flavours are givens of the Yarra’s cool climate. But the winemaking techniques – including a wild yeast ferment and 100 per cent whole-bunch fermentation – introduce their own textures and flavours to the wine. The inclusion of whole bunches (which means stems), enriches the tannin structure while inserting a notably stalky aroma and flavour. This is intriguing and distracting at the same time, drawing us back again and again for another mouthful. Before long the bottle’s empty and we conclude Kate’s onto a winner.

Kangarilla Road The Veil Savagnin Blanc 2011 $20 500ml
McLaren Vale, South Australia
Winemaker Kevin O’Brien created Kangarilla’s pleasantly tart take on the idiosyncratic vin jaune wines of France’s Jura region. The wines, matured in oak barrels under a film (or veil) of yeast, take on a savoury, tart, nutty character reminiscent of sherry. O’Brien’s richly textured wine delivers the zesty freshness of savagnin, with a light, tart, savoury sherry-like overlay. It’s a delicious and original aperitif style, more subtle than sherry and a more modest 13 per cent alcohol.

Red Knot by Shingleback Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 $11.39–$15
Davey Estate Vineyard, McLaren Vale, South Australia

That the discounters frequently trim the price of Red Knot is a sure sign of popularity. And popularity, in this instance, proves that Australia’s savvy palates know a bargain when they see one. This is a great example of modern Australian winemaking – starting with good fruit, principally from the Davey family’s Shingleback vineyard, then capturing the varietal flavour structure in the winery. It’s a ripe, juicy, fruity, fresh, flavoursome, lovable, red made to enjoy now.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 2 May 2012 in The Canberra Times