Wine review — Stonier, d’Arenberg and De Bortoli

Stonier Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay 2010 $16.50–$25
Stonier chardonnay walks the tasty line between the fat chardonnays of old and the sometimes ultra-austere versions now in vogue in some quarters. It’s based on the outstanding fruit flavour produced the cool, maritime environment of Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula – flanked on either side by Port Phillip and Westernport Bays, and Bass Straight to the south. It combines generosity of varietal flavour, vibrant fresh acidity and a smooth texture derived from partial barrel fermentation and maturation (and, judging by the flavour, a little malolactic fermentation – a secondary, acid-reducing process that inserts a subtle butterscotch note).

D’Arenberg McLaren Vale The Stick and Stones Tempranillo Shiraz Tinta Cao and Souzao 2008 $30
This is a triumph for the monumentally hot 2008 vintage. We might expect a port-like red, but instead winemaker Chester Osborne presents an impressively robust drop that slips down easily – and maintained our interest all the way to the bottom of the bottle. It’s deep and tannic and firm and savoury, chewy even, but the core of sweet, delicious fruit holds all that grunt comfortably. Tempranillo leads the blend and shiraz probably provides the fruit sweetness. God knows what the Portuguese tinta cao and souzo contribute. But they’re no strangers to hot weather and the combination works. It’s unique and satisfying.

De Bortoli Bella Riva King Valley Pinot Grigio Vermentino 2010 $15–$17I
In the nineties vine planting took off in Victoria’s King Valley as the area’s Italian-descended families turned their backs on tobacco growing – changing vices, so to speak. And two Italian winemaking families from Griffith (neither associated with tobacco), New South Wales, joined the expansion – Miranda and De Bortoli. De Bortoli’s includes among its vines pinot grigio, a grey/white mutant of pinot noir, and the Italian white variety, vermentino. De Bortoli’s low alcohol (12.5 per cent) blend of the two provides richly textured, pleasantly tart, savoury drinking, very much in the Italian style.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 18 March 2012 in The Canberra Times