Wine review — Thorn Clarke, Hahndorf Hill and West Cape Howe

Thorn Clarke Shotfire Barossa Quartage 2010 $15.25–$20
Thorn Clarke’s extensive vineyard holdings in the Barossa wine zone (comprising the Barossa Valley and higher, cooler Eden Valley) contribute grapes to this big value blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, malbec and merlot. It’s an harmonious blend of these Bordeaux varieties and none in particular dominates, although it’s clearly a cabernet driven blend: the varietal character shows in the aroma and structure, but the fleshy mid palate tells of malbec and merlot and presumably it’s the cabernet franc lifting the lovely perfume of the aroma. It has quite a track record now and in the very good 2010 vintage tastes particularly rich and satisfying.

Hahndorf Hill Winery Adelaide Hills Pinot Grigio $25
Pinot grigio disappoints more often than not, but Hahndorf Hill produces the goods regularly and excels in the cool 2012 vintage. The mild ripening conditions brought out the best in the variety, accentuating the pear-like varietal aroma but also adding a herbaceous element reminiscent of sauvignon blanc. That’s only a hint, however, and the pinot grigio stays at the centre of the vibrant, opulent palate. It’s juicy and plush but a strong backbone of acid and grape tannin give it grip and finish. Hahndorf Hill also makes wine from gruner veltliner and blaufrankisch – to be reviewed at another time.

West Cape Howe Book Ends Great Southern Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 $22–$26.50
Cape Howe’s big, rich cabernet comes from estate-grown wines at Mount Barker, part of Western Australia’s very large Great Southern region. The area’s more renowned for shiraz than cabernet, but this wine mounts a good argument for the latter. The colour’s deep and crimson rimmed. The aroma’s ripe, showing both cassis and chocolate-like character. The powerful palate delivers more cassis and chocolate, coated in firm, ripe tannins and with an undertone of oak. Although it’s a big wine the structure remains elegant. Winemaker Gavin Berry sources it from three vineyards, including Fox River, planted in the 1970s.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 9 September 2012 in The Canberra Times