Wine review — Shelmerdine, Villa Maria, De Bortoli, Serafino, Peter Lehmann and Pierrepoint

Shelmerdine Lusatia Park Pinot Noir 2010 $60
Lusatia Park vineyard, Woori Yallock, Upper Yarra Valley, Victoria

In 2010 Stephen Shelmerdine selected a small amount of fruit from a couple of rows of the oldest pinot noir vines (planted 1985) on the Lusatia Park vineyard. The grapes were hand harvested, de-stemmed and then cold-soaked before undergoing a natural fermentation as whole berries, then gently hand plunged towards the end of fermentation and later pressed to old and new French oak barrels for maturation and a natural secondary fermentation. The process captures pure, bright, delicate fruit flavours and very fine, silky tannins. The exceptional quality of the fruit translated to an extraordinary pinot noir – probably capable of long-term cellaring, and unquestionably a delight to savour right now.

Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2012 $12.90–$20
Wairau and Awatere Valleys, Marlborough, New Zealand

George Fistonich established Villa Maria in Auckland 50 years ago. Now Sir George, Fistonich spread his operation southward over the years, first to the Hawke’s Bay area on the North Island, and later to Marlborough at the northern tip of the South Island. His broad acre vineyards there produce outstanding wines, including this great value-for-money sauvignon blanc. It leaps out of the glass into your face, the variety’s raucous bonhomie in overdrive. Fruit, fruit and more fruit is the theme – a combination of gooseberry and passionfruit, with a fleshy mid palate and brisk acidity zesting up the dry finish.

De Bortoli Sauvignon 2011 $24–$26
De Bortoli Dixon Creek vineyard, Yarra Valley, Victoria

De Bortoli’s sauvignon offers more of an intense conversation than the backslapping style of the Villa Maria reviewed today. Winemaker Steve Webber calls it a “funky style. The antithesis of new world sauvignon. Textural, creamy, sauvage”. Webber intentionally muted the varietal character and added texture (and funky character) by fermenting and maturing the wine on yeast lees in old oak barrels. The wine remains clearly varietal – but the barrel work adds a literally mouth-watering dimension.

Serafino Shiraz 2010 $23.75–$26
Maglieri family vineyard, McLaren Vale, South Australia

Steve Maglieri planted vines in McLaren Vale in 1968, two years after emigrating from Italy. He later sold Maglieri Wines to direct marketer, Cellarmaster Wines (now part of Woolworths). But Maglieri retains 120-hectares of vines and with his daughter, Maria, now operates Serafino, with Charles Whish as winemaker. The supple and charming 2010 shiraz offers bright, ripe, plummy fruit flavours, woven in with soft, smooth, fine tannins. And McLaren Vale provides its own thumbprint in an underlying savouriness.

Peter Lehmann H and V Shiraz 2010 $22
Barossa Valley, South Australia

Peter Lehmann’s new Barossa shiraz and Serafino from McLaren Vale demonstrate the great finessing of Australia’s warm-region wines. Both wines retain warm-climate generosity and ripeness. But both do this without over-ripeness, over-extraction of tannins or over-oaking. If you like, we could call them relaxed wines – reds that unleash sweet, ripe supple fruit, subtly enhanced by appropriate oak maturation. Lehmann H and V does this deliciously and in the Barossa mould – ripe, round and full flavoured with tender, mouth-caressing tannins. French oak adds a little spice and tannic bite to the finish.

Pierrepoint Chardonnay 2011  $35.50
Tarrington, Henty, Victoria

Andrew and Jennifer Lacey established vineyards at Tarrington, 10 kilometres southeast of Hamilton, Victoria, in 1998. This is part of the Henty region, which also embraces Seppelt’s distinguished Drumborg vineyard. Pierrepoint vineyard, at 200 metres above sea level, clearly suits chardonnay and pinots noir, even in the particularly wet, cool 2011 vintage. The fine-boned, smoothly textured chardonnay combines the variety’s generosity, cut by a refreshing grapefruit-like zestiness, courtesy of the cool site and season. Similarly, the impressively tight but silky, lighter-bodied 2011 pinot noir ($39.50) presents bell clear varietal flavour that holds your attention glass after glass. (Available at

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