Wine review — Tarrawarra, Chapel Hill and Kilikanoon

Tarrawarra Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2010 $19–$22
Tarrawarra Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2010 $19–$22

Tarrawarra’s estate-grown and made chardonnay and pinot provide delicious, subtle drinking at a fair price. The pinot, made from four different clones and matured a variety of French oak, opens a little shyly on the nose. But the palate immediately delivers gentle, vibrant fruit flavours, supported by fine, silky tannins – real pinot that blossoms and becomes more aromatic with a little exposure to air. The chardonnay, too, focuses on varietal fruit flavours, reminiscent of citrus and melon. But time in barrel and on yeast lees backs the fruit with a creamy, smooth texture.

Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Bush Vine Grenache 2010 $30–$35
This excellent follow up to the fleshy 2009 vintage, captures the rich, earthy flavours of old McLaren Vale bush vines (vines grown as individual bushes, without trellising), planted in 1926, 1952 and 1967. Winemakers Michael Fragos and Bryn Richards say they hand picked the grapes and made the wine in small batches in open fermenters “to facilitate a long, slow, gentle extraction”. Subsequent maturation in older French oak hogsheads further ameliorated the tannins. The result is a pure grenache featuring the earthiness and pronounced tannins of the vintage – with a background of spice.

Kilikanoon Clare Valley Barrel Fermented Semillon 2011 $20
Semillon thrives across Australia and comes to us in many forms, including the classic, long-lived, unwooded Hunter Valley versions, the slightly fatter unwooded Barossa style and the herbal, elegant, partially oak fermented Margaret River blends with sauvignon blanc. In the Clare Valley, several makers, including Kilikanoon, ferment and mature semillon in oak barrels – adding extra dimension and body to the lemony, pleasantly tart varietal character of the grape. In the particularly cool 2011 vintage, this means considerable focus on the lemony-tart bit, relieved by the clever but not intrusive barrel contribution.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 20112
First published 13 May 2012 in The Canberra Times