Wine review — Moorilla Estate, Fox Creek, Innocent Bystander, Elevation and Evans and Tate

Moorilla Estate Muse Pinot Noir 2010 $48
Under David Walsh’s ownership, Moorilla Estate (founded 1958) gained not only the Museum of Modern and New Art, but a new winemaker and a complete revolution in its vineyard and winery management. The changes were under way when I visited winemaker Conor van der Reest at Moorilla in 2009. With the 2010 Muse pinot, van der Reest brings home the bacon. This is a glorious, completely irresistible pinot. It flourished on our tasting bench for four days, revealing layers of aroma, flavour and texture.

Moorilla Estate Praxis Chardonnay 2011 $30
Moorilla’s Daniel McMahon writes, “Praxis is selected for upfront fruit intensity with softness to the structure after tasting all the barrels after six months.” Moorilla’s more expensive, potentially longer-lived Muse wines spend another year in barrel. Praxis 2011 chardonnay’s inviting, clean, fresh citrusy varietal aroma leads to a shimmering, vital palate. The wine’s high natural acidity accentuates the intense but delicate flavours and gives a beautifully clean, fresh, dry finish. We’ll review the Muse chardonnay next week.

Fox Creek JSM Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc $21.85–$24
McLaren Vale, South Australia

This original, clever blend, based on shiraz, uses the two cabernet varieties to add different dimensions. First impression is of a highly aromatic red with buckets of slurpy, sweet, juicy fruit on the mid palate. The aromatic high notes come, presumably, from the cabernet franc component. And the big, soft palate and soft tannins start with shiraz. However, two cabernets affect the palate, too – cabernet sauvignon tightening up the structure and adding mint and chocolate notes. The cabernet franc adds a racy element. It’s made to drink now.

Innocent Bystander Mule Shiraz 2010 $30
Paxton’s Gateway vineyard, McLaren Vale, South Australia

Well-known McLaren Vale grape grower, David Paxton, established the Gateway vineyard early last decade and completed its conversion to certified biodynamic in 2011. Paxton sells fruit from the vineyard to Yarra-based Innocent Bystander for their new single-vineyard range, comprising viognier, sangiovese and this shiraz-viognier blend. It’s a richly textured but fine-boned, silky style combining bright, ripe fruit flavours with underlying McLaren Vale savouriness. The blend is 96 per cent shiraz with four per cent viognier.

Elevation Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 $49
Pedestal Vineyard, Margaret River, Western Australia

Elevation provides a highly aromatic, pure expression of the cabernet sauvignon grape – capturing a spectrum of its varietal characters. Ripe, sweet berry flavours give the wine a sweet supple core. But a leafy, herbaceous note pushes through, saying, ahem, I’m a cabernet – an indisputable fact brought home by the solid by soft tannin structure. The Pedestal vineyard is located at the highest point of Margaret River’s Wilyabrup Valley. Pedestal Wines is a partnership between Greg and Kerilee Brindle and Larry and Edwin Cherubino.

Evans and Tate Classic Shiraz Cabernet 2010 $13–$15
Margaret River, Western Australia

Now part of McWilliams Wines, Evans and Tate Classic offers big-company reliability, correctness and value – if not excitement. The wine’s aroma reveals a floral, sweet-fruited side of shiraz. This bright fruitiness comes through, too, on the palate. But here a little cabernet astringency kicks in, adding grip and an elegant structure suited to this medium-bodied style. This is an extension of the “Classic” range, a term originally used in the eighties in conjunction with light, crisp, blended white wines. Notable early adopters were Wolf Blass and Evans and Tate.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 9 May 2012 in The Canberra Times