Wine review — Jacques Lurton, Ben Haines, Shingleback, La Promesse, Marques de Riscal and Domaine Chandon

The Investigator by Jacques Lurton 2006 $70 – wine of the week
The Islander Estate vineyards, Kangaroo Island, South Australia
French winemaker Jacques Lurton believes in cabernet franc, an aromatic red variety that plays a key but not dominant role in the wines of Bordeaux’s St Emillion and Pomerol sub-regions. But in Kangaroo Island’s warmer climate, he says, “it pushes to another dimension and walks away from everything green”. The Investigator, first made in 2004, is Lurton’s best shot at a cabernet franc-dominant red. In 2004, the first vintage, he included 27 per cent sangiovese in the blend; cutting the proportion to five per cent in 2005. But as the savoury sangiovese tended to dominate, in 2006 the blend became 90 per cent cabernet franc, the rest malbec – a seductive and elegant combination that allows cabernet franc’s aromatics and fine tannins to star, sympathetically fleshed out by the malbec.

Ben Haines Syrah 2009 $58
Central Victoria, Victoria
Very exciting wine here from Ben Haines, a young bloke with global grape growing and winemaking experience – recently as winemaker for Mitchelton and currently as consulting winemaker to Yering Station. For his own label, Haines sources grapes from standout vineyards – in this instance from what is clearly a wonderful, if undisclosed, Nagambie Lakes shiraz site, planted between 1985 and 1992. The unfiltered, unfined wine delivers heady varietal aromatics and an amazingly seductive, rich, silk-smooth, fine-boned palate that simply pulses with life. (Available at

Shingleback Davey Estate Shiraz 2010 $19.90–22.95
The Davey Estate, McLaren Vale, South Australia
The Davey family grows good grapes and makes wine that always impress on our tasting bench and succeed in wine shows – three gold and three silver medals already for their 2010 shiraz. Winemaker John Davey says he makes lots of little batches from various parts of the vineyard and matures them in French and American oak hogsheads before assembling the final blend. It’s a generous wine, featuring bright, ripe fruit, with a savoury, earthy McLaren Vale edge and soft, rustic tannins.

Loire Sauvignon Blanc La Promesse 2010 $10–$13.99
Touraine, Loire Valley, France
Coles Liquor imports La Promesse for sale through its 1st Choice and Vintage Cellars outlets. It’s a restrained version of sauvignon blanc, still clearly varietal, but without the high alcohol or in-your-face fruitiness of the popular Marlborough versions. At just 12 per cent alcohol it sits lightly on the palate, delivering lean, crisp, herbaceous, lemony flavours and a fresh, bone dry finish – a versatile and delicious style. Screwcap sealed.

Marques de Riscal Rueda 2010 $14.99
Rueda, Spain
Rueda is a northwestern Spanish wine region. The local white variety, verdejo, was originally used to make sherry-like wines until Marques de Riscal developed a delicate table wine style from it in the 1970s. It’s a distinctive dry white – juicy and mouth-watering, with a pleasantly tart, savoury dry finish. Like the Loire sauvignon reviewed today, it sits lightly on the palate with its modest alcohol content and suits a wide range of foods. Woolworths imports Marques de Riscal wines for sale through its Dan Murphy’s outlets.

Domaine Chandon Chardonnay 2011 $27.95
Yarra Valley, Victoria
Domaine Chandon says its chardonnay comes “primarily from the cooler, elevated sites of the upper Yarra Valley” to provide citrus-like varietal flavour at low sugar levels, and high natural acidity. It also takes small parcels from warmer sites lower in the valley to add stone-fruit varietal flavour. In the very cool 2011 season that combination delivers a comparatively lean, but still lovely chardonnay, with more emphasis on citrus than stone-fruit flavours. Fresh acid and textural richness resulting from barrel fermentation and maturation, completes a satisfying white with good medium term cellaring potential.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First publised 8 August 2012 in The Canberra Times