Wine review — Four Winds, Tintilla Estate, McWilliams Mount Pleasant, Mount Eyre, Hill-Smith Estate and Yering Station

Four Winds Vineyard Riesling 2011 $17
Four Winds vineyard, Murrumbateman, Canberra District, New South Wales

This gold medal winner from the 2011 regional wine show could easily pass as a Mosel. The low alcohol (10 per cent), delicate lime-like flavour and high acidity move it way beyond the spectrum of flavours we normally see in Canberra. Just as Mosel vignerons do, winemakers Bill and Jaime Crowe arrested the fermentation, allowing residual grape sugar to mollify the tart acidity. The 13 grams per litre of sugar doesn’t register as sweet – it simply fleshes out the mid palate, creating a delicious tension between the fruit flavour and acidity.

Tintilla Estate Tarantella Sangiovese Cabernet Merlot Shiraz 2009 $30
Pokolbin, Lower Hunter Valley, New South Wales
If you’re in the lower Hunter Valley, Tintilla’s a must-visit, not just for the wine but also for the estate-grown verjus (made from green-harvested sangiovese), vinegar and olive oil. It’s a bright, medium-bodied red, starting plummy and fruity, then bringing in deeper, earthy, savoury flavours and delicious, dry, savoury tannin – a wine to enjoy with savoury, food laced with roasted tomato, olives, capsicum and anchovy.

McWilliams Mount Pleasant Lovedale Semillon 2007 $60
Lovedale Vineyard, Lower Hunter Valley, New South Wales
Maurice O’Shea selected the Lovedale vineyard site (next to Cessnock airport) in 1939, planted the vineyard in 1946 and made the first semillon from it in 1950. Over the years successive McWilliams winemakers, starting with O’Shea, made magnificent, long-lived semillons from the site. Released at five years (this one was harvested on January 15 2007), by which time Lovedale has emerged from the intense, austere, lemony phase and began to show greater body, texture and a hint of honey. The very fine, harmonious 2007 shows this classic, idiosyncratic style at its best. Should cellar for many decades in the right conditions.

Mount Eyre Three Ponds Shiraz 2009 $24.95
Mount Eyre Vineyard, Broke, Lower Hunter Valley, New South Wales
This shiraz – made by highly regarded Hunter vigneron, Rhys Eather – comes from a vineyard at Broke (one valley away from Pokolbin). The vineyard was planted in 1970 by Neil Grosser and today belongs to the Iannuzzi and Tsironis families. It’s a gentle, medium bodied red with subtle, earthy, spicy, plummy fruit flavour and the Hunter’s signature, soft, tender tannins. It’s a modest (for Australia) 13.5 per cent alcohol. It slips down very easily now, but there’s a depth and complexity here to see it through a decade, perhaps more, in the cellar.

Hill-Smith Estate Chardonnay 2010 $23.95
Eden Valley, South Australia

The Eden Valley, slightly north of the Adelaide Hills on the Mount Lofty Ranges, produces beautiful riesling but is generally seen too warm to match the elegant chardonnays of its southerly, cooler neighbour. If not at chardonnay’s cutting edge, Hill-Smith 2010, presents a juicy, lovely, more-peachy face of the variety, backed by the smooth texture of wild-yeast fermentation and oak maturation.

Yering Station MVR Marsanne Viognier Roussanne 2009 $25
Yarra Valley, Victoria

This is a blend of three Rhone Valley white varieties, all fermented and matured in five-year-old, 225-litre French oak barriques. The older oak contributes no detectable woody flavours, instead allowing controlled oxidation that makes the wine more complex and contributes to its silky texture. Marsanne (50 per cent of the blend) contributes the generally citrusy flavour, while viognier and roussanne between them inject notes of apricot and honey and some of the smooth texture. This is a full but subtle wine of unique appeal.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 8 February 2012 in The Canberra Times