Wine review — De Bortoli Windy Peak, Tar and Roses, Tim Adams, Coriole and Holm Oak

De Bortoli Windy Peak Shiraz 2010 $12–$14 – wine of the week
Heathcote, Victoria
Sometimes less is more. And that’s what makes three-star Windy Peak wine of the week. It isn’t over-oaked. It isn’t over extracted. It isn’t tricked up in any way as some cheaper wines can be. It simply delivers what it says on the label – shiraz from Heathcote, Victoria. We expect and get something from that regional-varietal combination: a medium-bodied dry red with bright, spicy, shiraz flavour and a soft but savoury bite of tannin – a satisfying wine to enjoy now. Sarah Fagan, from one of Cowra’s grape-growing families, makes the wine at De Bortoli’s Dixon Creek Winery, Yarra Valley, under tutelage of chief winemaker, Steve Webber.

Tar and Roses Tempranillo 2011 $18.99–$24
Heathcote and Alpine Valleys, Victoria
The 2010 vintage Tar and Roses showed the concentrated fruit and strong tannins of the season. The style shifts markedly in the cool 2011 vintage, emphasising bright, fresh fruit character, a fleshy but mid-weight palate and soft, though dry and persistent tannins. Winemaker Narelle King writes, “Despite the challenges of a wet 2011 vintage we are extremely happy with our 2011 tempranillo. An extra parcel of Heathcote young-vine fruit was included to complete the blend, filling out the mid palate with ripe red fruits”. Tar and Roses Heathcote Shiraz 2010, released with the tempranillo, shows the power and savouriness of 2010, in a fine-boned Heathcote way.

Tim Adams Cabernet Malbec 2007 $23–$25
Clare Valley, South Australia

Tim Adams served his winemaking apprenticeship under Mick Knappstein at Clare’s Leasingham Winery. Decades later he returned to buy the historic site from Constellation Wines. In the intervening years, though, Adams had established his own Clare Valley brand. And included the range is this blend of cabernet and malbec, inspired by Leasingham’s legendary Bin 56 Cabernet Malbec. It’s a full-bodied, tasty combination, as malbec fleshes out cabernet’s slightly hollow mid palate, inserting its own dark-berry flavours, floral aroma and abundant tannins. The extra few years’ bottle age makes it all the more satisfying.

Coriole Lloyd Reserve Shiraz 2009 $85
Coriole Vineyard, McLaren Vale, South Australia

Mark Lloyd makes this wine, dedicated to his father Hugh, from a block of shiraz planted in 1919. The old, deep-rooted, unirrigated vines produce wines of remarkable colour and flavour concentration. Despite its dense colour, powerful flavours and mouth-coating tannin, Lloyd Reserve remains approachable – a big, juicy, savoury, earthy, harmonious red of great individuality. It’s the sort of wine to savour in its own right – say with a chunk of Silo bread and nothing more. Grandeur needs affirmation, not company.

Holm Oak Arneis 2011 $25
Home Oak Vineyard, Tamar Valley, Tasmania

Piedmont’s arneis grape makes wine with what we might politely call a subtle flavour. This no doubt prompted winemaker Rebecca Duffy to fiddle around with it in the winery – leaving grape solids in the ferment, fermenting a portion with wild yeast in barrels, followed by malolactic fermentation. The resulting bone-dry, savoury white leads with the feral, leesy, yeast-derived aromas and flavours, with a more subtle kernel of melon-like fruit underneath. It’s a unique and pleasing dry white if you love ‘em dust dry and savoury.

Holm Oak Chardonnay 2011 $30
Holm Oak Vineyard, Tamar Valley, Tasmania

In 2007 Rebecca and Tim Duffy planted a hectare of chardonnay to two different clones of chardonnay – one for the “mineral and citrus” character it gives to wine, the other, from Canada, for its “floral and aromatic” character. In the cool 2011 vintage the combination leans more to grapefruit-like varietal flavours with a touch of peach. Fermentation in a mix of new (30 per cent) and older French oak barrels, and partial malolactic fermentation, added textural richness to what is an incredibly good wine from such young vines. It’s a delight to drink now, should age well for three or four years, conservatively, and contains just 12.7 per cent alcohol.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 11 July 2012 in The Canberra Times