De Bortoli Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2011 $21–$30
The recommend price is $30, but as I write Dan Murphy’s charges $23.75 as part of a six-bottle buy, beaten by Costco Canberra’s $20.99, no quantity hurdle. The wine comes from mature vines, average age 20 years, says winemakers Steve Webber. He crushes the grape bunches, stalks and all, and allows the juice to settle before spontaneous fermentation in old 225-litre and 5,700-litre oak casks – followed by maturation on the spent yeast cells. In the cool 2011 vintage, tangy, citrusy varietal flavour sits deliciously with the flavour and texture derived from whole-bunch pressing, spontaneous fermentation and barrel maturation on yeast lees.
De Bortoli Vinoque Roundstone Vineyard Gamay Noir 2011 $24
De Bortoli’s new vinoque range, available on-premise and at cellar door only, features single-vineyard wines, “mainly in development stage”, write Leanne De Bortoli and winemaker husband, Steve Webber. They sourced gamay grapes (the red variety of Beaujolais, southern Burgundy), from the Roundstone vineyard, “at Steels Creek on the western edge of the central Yarra”. Like Beaujolais, it’s a lighter bodied wine to quaff happily with food, with a modest 12.5 per cent alcohol. The inclusion of whole bunches, including stalks, in the fermentation, adds a teasing and pleasant stemmy/stalky bite to the juice ripe berry flavours.
Oxford Landing Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2010 $7–$9.50
Yalumba’s Wyndham Hill-Smith established Oxford Landing vineyard on the Murray River, South Australia, in 1958. In the 1980s Hill-Smith’s son, Robert, launched the Oxford Landing Estate range as a fighting brand to take on the big companies. The meticulously managed estate still contributes grapes to a brand that sits with the best in its price range. But the company also sources grapes from other growers in the region – hence the subtle rebranding from ‘estate’ to ‘estates’. This is all you could ask for at the price – clean, fresh, deliciously fruity and clearly made from cabernet, fleshed out with a touch of shiraz.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 5 August 2012 in The Canberra Times