Wine review — House of Arras, Mitchell, Oakridge, Cherubino, De Bortoli and Yarraloch

House of Arras Methode Traditionelle Rosé $80
Derwent and Huon Valleys, Tasmania

House of Arras is the brand created by BRL Hardy (later Constellation Wines Australia, now Accolade Wines) for its Tasmanian sparkling wines. The rosé provides more proof, were any needed, that Tasmanian bubblies, led by those made for Arras by Ed Carr, sit on top of the pile. Carr combined pinot noir and chardonnay in this delicate wine, aged seven years on yeast lees in bottle. The pale, onionskin colour, delicate red-berry fruit flavour and strong backbone signal the wine’s high pinot content. And the superb fruit and prolonged ageing accounts for its unique combination of lightness, freshness, power and delicacy.

Mitchell Peppertree Vineyard Shiraz 2009 $22.80–$25
Peppertree vineyard, Clare Valley, South Australia

Andrew and Jane Mitchell offer two shirazes from their dry-grown, handpicked vineyards in the Clare Valley. The 2009 vintage provides rich, smooth drinking in the ripe, spicy, sweet-fruited, solidly structured, though soft, Clare style. It’s a year or two older than most reds in the market, and the extra age adds to its mellow, satisfying character – a beautiful drink at a fair price. McNicol Shiraz 2003, named for Andrew Mitchell’s father, gives a rare opportunity to enjoy perfectly cellared, maturing red at a realistic $40 a bottle – an excellent gift, or something to savour with Christmas dinner.

Oakridge Local Vineyard Series Pinot Noir 2011 $38
Various vineyards, Yarra Valley, Victoria

Oakridge winemaker David Bicknell made four pinots for this series in 2011 – from the Syme, Oakridge (reviewed 28 November), Guerin and Denton vineyards, at different Yarra Valley locations. The wines share the pale colour and lean structure of the cold vintage. But the subtle differences from one wine to another demonstrate the influence each site exerts upon grape (and hence wine) flavour – probably driven largely by tiny climatic variations. All are highly aromatic, all are delicate and all show a flavour depth and structure belying the light colour. The flavour spectrum ranges from bright, strawberry/raspberry-like to quite exotic, earthy, mushroom and savoury elements.

Cherubino Laissez Faire Riesling 2012 $29
Porongurup, Great Southern, Western Australia

Larry Cherubino’s Laissez Faire takes riesling where it seldom goes in Australia. He sources grapes from dry-grown bush vines at Porongurup (little more than a rocky knob in Western Australia’s Great Southern wine region) and allows the wine to ferment naturally. The process mutes riesling’s aromatic high notes, leaving the more citrus-like varietal characters intact. This citrus character provides a mouth-watering sensation on a richly textured, savoury, delicate and soft, dry palate.

De Bortoli Windy Peak Shiraz 2012 $11.40–$14
Heathcote, Victoria

It’s a sign of maturity in a top wine-growing region when it offers cheaper, high quality wines as well as more expensive reputation-building products. De Bortoli keeps the cost of Windy Peak down by releasing it young and maturing only a portion of the blend in oak (old oak at that). The tank-matured portion retains a bright, spicy fruitiness that lifts the more mellow, savoury oak-aged component, giving a generously flavoured, soft and spicy shiraz to enjoy now.

Yarraloch Chardonnay 2011 $28.49–$30
Yarra Valley, Victoria

Yarraloch reveals facets of the winemaker’s art as well as the natural richness of chardonnay and the racy acidity of the cold vintage. The winemaker thumbprint shows in a funky aroma and flavour (a result of natural fermentation and maturation on yeast lees in oak) cutting through the grapefruit and just-ripe nectarine varietal character. Together, the funky and varietal flavours and racy acidity create a literally mouth-watering sensation in a silky-textured dry white.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 19 December 2012 in The Canberra Times and