Wine review — PHI, Mr Riggs and Yalumba

PHI Heathcote Syrah Grenache 2010 $35
About five years ago the De Bortoli and Shelmerdine families launched the PHI label, for wines made by Steve Webber (husband of Leanne De Bortoli) from fruit grown in Shelmerdine family vineyards. The original releases – chardonnay, sauvignon and pinot noir – came from the Lusatia Park Vineyard, Yarra Valley. This new wine – “our first attempt at a Southern Rhone style blend”, says Webber, combines shiraz (= syrah) and grenache from the Shelmerdine’s Northern Heathcote vineyard. It’s a delicious, juicy, spicy, vibrant wine, cut with fine, savoury tannins – the beautiful fruit flavours completely masking its 14.2 per cent alcohol content.

Mr Riggs Adelaide Hills Montepulciano 2009 $25
Italy’s montepulciano grape (unrelated to the Tuscan town of the same name) is best known in the Abruzzi region, on the Adriatic coast. In the rolling hills leading up to the Apennines, it produces, at its best, dark, ripe, full-bodied, tannic, savoury reds. Leading producers, like Dino Illuminati (imported by Woolworths), bring out the best in the variety. Winemaker Ben Riggs sources his grapes from a warm site between Kersbrook and Williamstown in the Adelaide Hills. It’s a big, ripe, plummy, rustic style with herbal and spicy tones and loads of soft tannin – well suited to hard cheeses, like pecorino Romagna, or roasted red meat.

Yalumba Y Series South Australia Viognier 2011 $9.49–$15
Yalumba pioneered viognier in Australia, acquiring cuttings from Montpellier France in 1979, propagating these cuttings, and then establishing 1.2 hectares on the Vaughan vineyard, Eden Valley, in 1980 – probably Australia’s first commercial planting of the variety.  The modestly priced Y viognier delivers on all those years’ experience. The variety’s naturally viscous texture, firmness and lush, apricot-like flavours form its heart. But the winemaking adds layers to this – in particular through controlled oxidation, indigenous yeast fermentation and maturation on yeast lees for a few months afterwards. The wine combines apricot- and citrus-like flavours on a fresh, richly textured, bone-dry palate.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 12 February 2012 in The Canberra Times