Wine review — Mount Horrocks, Pizzini, Shingleback, Clonakilla and Zema Estate

Mount Horrocks Riesling 2012 $27–$30
Mount Horrocks Watervale vineyard, Clare Valley, South Australia

Stephanie Toole’s 2012 joins a growing list of fabulous Clare rieslings. As they come onto the market over the next few months, they present a rare opportunity to buy superb whites with proven long-term cellaring ability. The usually unexcitable Toole, writes of this wine and her cordon-cut sweet riesling, “these two wines may well prove to be the most impressive in my 20 years at Mount Horrocks”. I’ll review the sweetie another day. But the dry wine reveals the pure, intense lime-like varietal character and delicacy of Watervale, a Clare sub-region. This is an exceptional riesling.

Pizzini Pinot Grigio 2012 $18.50–$21
King Valley, Victoria

There’s a bit of Italian in this delicious pinot grigio from Fred Pizzini and family. They use the Italian name, rather than French “pinot gris” and the wine certainly sits more in the crisp, dry north-eastern Italian style than in the opulent versions from France’s Alsace region. The cool season brought out the variety’s pear-like flavour and the Pizzinis haven’t been afraid to extract a little tannin from the skins – giving the wine structure and a pleasantly tart, very Italian finish.

Shingleback Haycutters Shiraz 2010 $16.20–$17
Haycutters block, Davey Estate vineyard, McLaren Vale, South Australia

The Davey family produces a number of outstanding reds from its extensive vineyard holdings in McLaren Vale. This one leapt off the tasting bench, contrasting strongly in style to the Clonakilla wines reviewed today. We expect bigger reds from McLaren Vale than Canberra and, as well, the 2010 vintage produced more opulent wines than 2011. Haycutters delivers on the expectation. It’s a generous McLaren Vale style – big on fruit and savouriness and showing the strong tannin structure of the vintage. It really is a far better wine than you’d expect at the price.

Clonakilla O’Riada Shiraz 2011 $35
Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW

No vintage is either all good or all bad. Though disease destroyed much of Murrumbateman’s shiraz in the cold, wet 2011 season, small quantities survived. And in this co-fermented shiraz and viognier blend, Tim Kirk captures the bright, fresh, spicy character of the cold year. The underlying fruit flavour resembles red berry fruit compote, seasoned with a handful of mixed spice and a light dusting of pepper. The small amount of white viognier in the blend boosts the pleasing, floral aroma and contributes to the silky smooth texture. Fine tannins and lively acidity provide a clean, fresh finish. This is a lighter style to enjoy over the next three or four years.

Clonakilla Shiraz 2011 $25
Hilltops, NSW

Clonakilla Hilltops shiraz, generally a little fuller-bodied and rounder than its Canberra shirazes, also shows the cool-vintage thumbprint. It remains richer than the O’Riada or flagship shiraz viognier, but with less weight than in warmer years. The cherry-like fruit flavour comes dusted with spice and pepper on a medium-bodied, smooth, soft palate. It lacks the length or depth of warmer years, but drinks deliciously now.

Zema Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 $25.65–$29
Coonawarra, South Australia

Zema Winery sits in the heart of Coonawarra’s terra rossa soil, on the western edge of the Riddoch Highway. Nick and Matt Zema manage the 61-hectare estate, founded in 1982 by their parents Demetrio and Francesca, with former Lindemans winemaker Greg Clayfield calling the shots in the winery. The 2009 shows a very light touch from the winemaker, allowing us to savour Coonawarra’s juicy, rich berry flavours and naturally elegant structure.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 26 September 2012 in The Canberra Times