Wine review — Coolangatta Estate, Silos Estate, Cullen, Bathe Wines and Massale by Kooyong

Coolangatta Estate Tempranillo 2009 $35
Coolangatta Estate vineyard, Shoalhaven Coast, New South Wales
In the Canberra Regional Show 2011, this wine top scored in its class, winning a gold medal and proceeding to the “other red varieties” trophy taste-off. The Canberra gong added to the gold medal and four trophies won in the 2010 Kiama Regional Wine Show. Like Coolangatta’s wonderful semillons, the tempranillo is estate grown but made in the Hunter Valley by Tyrrell’s – clearly a successful arrangement. This is a fresh, vibrant and medium-bodied tempranillo, seamlessly combining sweet and savoury fruit with soft, persistent tannins.

Coolangatta Estate Wollstonecraft Semillon 2011 $25
Coolangatta Wollstonecraft vineyard, Shoalhaven Coast, New South Wales

Coolangatta’s Ben Wallis says, “powdery and downy mildew are part of our life on the coast”, so in the cold, wet 2011 season, “we upped the ante in the vineyard”. The acidic grapes developed flavour ripeness very early in the cool conditions, but sugar levels lagged – the opposite of a normal year. Owner Greg Bishop and his team hand-picked the healthy fruit, shipping it to Tyrrell’s for vinification. The resulting wine presents rich, lemony varietal flavours cut with the season’s tart, bracing acidity. It’s slightly rounder than you’d expect in a cool season, 11 per-cent-alcohol wine, but it’s definitely built for ageing.

Silos Estate Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2010 $22.50–$25
Silo Estate vineyard, Berry, Shoalhaven Coast, New South Wales

The estate, located near Berry, grows seven grape varieties, including chardonnay, in its five-hectare vineyard. Looking young and fresh at two years, the 2010 chardonnay – fermented spontaneously by wild yeasts – shows fresh citrus and melon rind varietal characters. The palate’s medium bodied and smoothly textured with an underlying nutty character, derived from maturation on yeast lees following fermentation. The vines are hand pruned and the grapes hand picked.

Cullen Diana Madeline 2010 $115
Cullen vineyard, Margaret River, Western Australia
Like Penfolds Bin 707 reviewed on 9 May, Cullen Diana Madeline enjoys a cellaring potential measured in decades, not years. But the wines contrast starkly in style. Bin 707 shows an impenetrably dark, powerful face of cabernet – overwhelmingly dense and tannic as a young wine but becoming increasingly elegant as the decades pass by. Cullen is limpid and approachable on release – a wine of delicate violet-like aroma and seductive, subtle, supple, fine-grained palate. It’s a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petit verdot malbec and cabernet franc, planted forty years ago by winemaker Vanya Cullen’s parents, Kevin John and Diana Madeline.

Bathe Wines Pinot Noir 2011 $33
Tamar Valley and Coal River Valley, Tasmania

This callow newcomer to the busy wine scene rushes to the market barely a year out of the vineyard. Brash and exuberant on first opening, it becomes a more complete pinot after a long aeration. It’s light to medium bodied, with bright varietal fruit flavour, a stalky note (courtesy of whole bunches in the ferment) and, most importantly, a silky mid-palate. Jeremy Dineen of Joseph Chromy Wines made it for Bathe Wines, owned by John Harvey. It’s available at

Massale by Kooyong Pinot Noir 2011 $22.70–$30
Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

Sandro Mosele’s new release stood out in a recent tasting, wedged between Alex McKay and Nick O’Leary’s attractive Bourke Street Tumbarumba pinot and a very strange beast indeed from Savaterre, Beechworth. Mosele’s wine shows the light body and high acid of the cool season. But therein lies the appeal. Mosele hasn’t tried to prop the wine up with winemaking artifice. We taste pure and delicious raspberry-like varietal flavour on a shimmering fresh palate, supported by lean, tight tannins.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 30 May 2012 in The Canberra Times