Wine review — Giant Steps, Tertini, David Hook, Andrew Thomas, Tulloch and John Duval

Giant Steps Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay 2011 $35.15–$40
Sexton Vineyard, Yarra Valley, Victoria
Proprietor Phil Sexton offers three single-vineyard Yarra Valley chardonnays – the vineyards managed by Stuart Marshall and wines made by Steve Flamsteed. The wines reflect the fruit flavours of the different sites, some clonal variation and subtle variations in winemaking, including the use of various types of oak. These are beautiful modern chardonnays. Of the three, Sexton Vineyard, near Yarra Yering and Coldstream Hills, appealed most of all. It’s a multi-dimensional wine, based on vivid, luscious nectarine- and grapefruit-like varietal flavour. These thread through a sensuous, slick textured but exceptionally fine, dry palate.

Tertini Reserve Arneis 2010 $35
Tertini Yaraandoo vineyard, Southern Highlands, NSW
The northern Italian white variety, Arneis, is one of few varieties to succeed to date in Julian Tertini’s Southern Highlands vineyard. Low grape yields – about half that of arneis – and low rate of juice extraction, means tiny production. But the quality is excellent. It’s a full-bodied wine with unique varietal flavours – hard to describe, but in my tasting at the winery the words “sappy”, “melon rind”, “pear” and “lemon” – all in a positive vein – came to mind. However we describe it though, it’s thoroughly delicious, the bright fruit flavours backed by the textural richness of partial barrel fermentation.

David Hook Reserve Barbera 2011 $30
Central Ranges, NSW

Italy’s barbera grape tends to make brilliantly coloured reds with bright summer berry flavours, brisk acidity and soft tannins. David Hook’s version ticks all those boxes. But there’s another dimension, too, making this easily the best Australian expression of the style that I’ve tasted. The fleshy but not plump palate, and smooth, silky tannins make this a more complete, satisfying red without abandoning the varietal character. Hook says that it won the trophy at the 2012 NSW Small Winemakers Show for best dry red table wine made from Spanish or Italian varieties.

Andrew Thomas Braemore Semillon 2012 $28
Braemore vineyard, Pokolbin, Lower Hunter Valley, NSW

Andrew Thomas says in 26 Hunter vintages he can’t recall a cooler spring and summer. Despite the cool season, grapes on the Braemore vineyard ripened, albeit a few weeks later than normal, to produce this lean and lively 10.5 per cent semillon. It’s lemony, fresh and taut now, though smoothly textured. But bottle age, perhaps a decade or two, should fatten it with a rich, toasty, honeyed character, in the classic Hunter semillon mould.

Tulloch Vineyard Selection Verdelho 2012 $20
Denman, Upper Hunter Valley, and Pokolbin, Lower Hunter Valley, NSW

Verdelho’s a key variety of Madeira and in Australia easily made the transition from fortified wine production – for which it was originally imported in the nineteenth century – to table wine in our warmer grape growing regions. It provides pleasant, medium to full bodied drinking with a sappy, tropical edge to the fruit flavour. Tulloch’s version slips down easily –unobtrusive, but tasty, zesty and fresh and with typical Hunter roundness and softness.

John Duval Entity Shiraz 2010 $45–$48
Krondorf, Tanunda, Light Pass and Eden Valley, Barossa, South Australia

Entity is former Penfolds winemaker John Duval’s shot at an elegant, potentially long-lived Barossa shiraz. He writes, “The 2010 Entity again includes some Eden Valley [part of the Barossa zone] shiraz to help maintain the elegance and style”. At two years, the wine’s a baby – densely coloured with vivid purple rim; vibrant, youthful aroma of ripe dark berries; and a palate rippling with ripe, juicy berry flavours with a touch of spice and underlying savouriness and layered with very fine, soft tannins. Very approachable now, but there’s substance to this wine and it should age well for a decade or more if properly cellared.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 14 November 2012 in The Canberra Times