Wine review — Penfolds, Illuminati and Bremerton

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Chardonnay 2011 $12.35–$16
What do you drink on a camping trip around the Northern Territory? We recently stocked up on this in Darwin and again in Katherine as the seeming best value white at Woolies Liquor. Even up there we paid just $12.35 and it easily passed the campfire taste test, night after night. It’s a modern style chardonnay, based on bright, fresh fruit, with texture and structure (but not overt woody flavours) derived from oak fermentation and maturation. A multi-region blend, the high quality to price relationship owes much to the parent company’s work on its top-end chardonnays.

Illuminati Riparosso Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2010 $9.49–$11.40*
Our red choice for the NT camping trip comes from the Contraguerra region in the hinterland of Italy’s Abruzzi coast. Like the Koonunga Hill above, we bought it from Woolies Liquor (at around $11 a bottle) and we’d have paid dollars more for an Australian red of comparable quality. Like Australian reds, Riparosso starts with clean, fresh fruit flavour. But a delicious, teasing, Italian savouriness sets in, making it a lovely cook’s tipple and refreshing company for food in general. Woolies imports Riparosso direct from Dino Illuminati, a distinguished Abruzzi vigneron.

Bremerton Langhorne Creek Selkirk Shiraz 2010 $20.89–22
Craig and Mignonne Willson set up in Langhorne Creek, on the Bremer River floodplain, in 1985. Their daughters, Rebecca and Lucy (winemaking and marketing, respectively), direct the business. The wines, all estate grown and made, are consistently outstanding, as well as being reasonably priced. They generally present the clear varietal flavours and fleshy, juicy mid palate that makes Langhorne Creek a popular grape source for big company multi-region blends. Bremerton’s pure regional shiraz delivers ripe, plummy, slightly spicy varietal flavour and a succulent, lovable palate, with soft, easy finish.

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