Wine review — Houghton, Hardy and Sir James

Houghton Wisdom Pemberton Sauvignon Blanc 2012 $22–$25
The strength of the 2012 vintage revealed itself in the National Wine Show’s sauvignon blanc class. The judges awarded medals to 15 of the 17 wines. However, their verdict reflected good rather then exciting quality as they handed out mostly bronze medals – with only two silvers and a lone gold to Houghton Wisdom. The wine, from Pemberton, Western Australia, went on to win the trophy as the best sauvignon blanc in the show. It’s a racy style with herbaceous and passionfruit-like varietal flavour and mid palate richness, derived from maturation on yeast lees.

Hardys Oomoo McLaren Vale Shiraz 2011 $14–$17
The reintroduction of Oomoo shiraz in 2003, following almost a century’s absence, helped reestablish Hardy’s links with McLaren Vale. Consistently high quality and low price (as little as $10.85 on special) makes it one of the best red buys in Australia – evidenced by its recent top-scoring gold medal in the 2012 National Wine Show of Australia. It’s a medium-bodied style, featuring bright, fresh, ripe berry flavours with a touch of varietal spice and regional savouriness. This is a very good effort in the disease-ravaged 2011 vintage.

Sir James Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2007 $19–$23
Modestly priced Sir James 2007 topped its class in the National Wine Show of Australia, winning a gold medal and outscoring several of its far more expensive cellar mates, House of Arras Brut Elite Cuvee Elite 401 2004 and Grand Vintage 2004. The judges got the pecking order wrong, I reckon. But there’s no doubting the exceptional quality of Sir James – a fine, delicate dry, bottle-fermented bubbly. It combines the right fruit flavours with a subtle patina of flavours derived from prolonged ageing on spent yeast cells. It’s made by Ed Carr and Paul Lapsley, using fruit from the Yarra Valley and Tumbarumba.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 16 December 2012 in The Canberra Times