Seppelt Salinger NV $19–$25, Salinger Vintage 2008 $23.75–$30
Non-vintage Salinger – sourced mainly from the Adelaide Hills, Henty and Tumbarumba – ticks all the boxes for bottle-fermented, complex bubbly made from the classic varieties. It’s a soft, delicate, drink-now style, revealing good underlying fruit flavours and the complexities of ageing on yeast lees. Vintage 2008, too, is in the delicate aperitif style, but the palate reveals more intense pinot flavour and even livelier, finer acidic freshness. Salinger almost faded from view during a decade of turmoil at Southcorp, then Foster’s. The quality, however, never faltered, and there’s hope of commercial revival with Treasury Wine Estates now separated from the beer business.
Mr Riggs Adelaide Hills Yacca Paddock Tempranillo 2009 $22–$23
This is a deep, dark, juicy and firm Australian expression of Spain’s tempranillo variety. Winemaker Ben Riggs writes that the variety, “ has big bunches and very thick skins that can be hard to bite into, but which produce good colour and tannins”. In this instance the wine echoes the grape description – deeply coloured with very bright and appealing fruit flavours; and, yes, you have to bite through layers of tannin to reach the fruit. This sets Mr Riggs tempranillo apart from other varieties. The rich, bright, supple underlying fruit flavour is all Australian; the savoury, firm tannins provide the exotic difference.
Tahbilk Nagambie Lakes Marsanne 2011 $12.35–$17.75
If you’re driving to Melbourne, it’s worth the detour, via Violet Town, to Nagambie and on to Tahbilk. The historic property, on an anabranch of the Goulburn River, claims to have the largest planting of marsanne in the world, with some vines dating from 1927. At Tahbilk this Rhone Valley variety makes a distinctive, potentially very long-lived dry white. The aroma and flavour have often been described as honeysuckle-like – something I don’t always detect, but do in the 2011. The style’s grown slightly finer and more delicate over the last decade. But behind the honeysuckle and citrus flavours lie tangy acidity and a firm, savoury bite.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 15 January 2012 in The Canberra Times