Wine review — Waterwheel, Brand’s Laira and Hahndorf Hil

Waterwheel Bendigo Shiraz 2010 $14.25–$18
The vineyard, now covering more than120 hectares, was established in 1972 and acquired by the Cumming family in 1989. Presumably the scale of production enables continued production at such a reasonable price. It’s deep and brightly coloured and the palate fleshy and rich – dense with ripe, black-cherry fruit flavours, layered with quite solid but not hard tannins. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks and undergoes malolactic fermentation (a secondary ferment converting hard malic acid to soft lactic acid) before maturation in new, one and two year old American oak hogsheads.

Brand’s Laira Coonawarra Blockers Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 $20.65–$28
Decades ago Eric and Nancy Brand purchased the Laira Vineyard, plum in the heart of Coonawarra’s terra soils. The family later planted more vines on the black soils some distance to the west, though I notice under McWilliams ownership the Laira name seems to apply to the new as well as the old plantings. The wine, however, is very good at the price, providing true Coonawarra varietal flavour and fine structure. It won gold medals at the Limestone Coast and Riverina wine shows ­ – the former being particularly important as Coonawarra lies within the Limestone Coast wine zone.

Hahndorf Hill Winery Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc2012 $23
The cool 2012 vintage ended with a mild ripening period and produced outstanding white wines from what I’ve seen to date. Hahndorf Hill’s sauvignon blanc, a bronze medal winner at Canberra’s Winewise Small Vignerons Awards, shows the rich, pleasing fruit flavours of the vintage. The attractive tropical-fruit character of the aroma flows through to the generous, fleshy, juicy palate. And the high acid of the cool season gives a very fresh, invigorating finish to the wine. Australia struggles with sauvignon blanc, a variety suited to generally cooler climates, but in 2012 we’re likely to see many more high quality wines like this one.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 2 September 2012 in The Canberra Times