Wine review — Yalumba, Louee Wines and Punt Road

Yalumba Y Series Vermentino 2011 $12–$15
Originally from Sardinia, the Liguria coast and Corsica, vermentino seems well suited to Australia’s hot, dry conditions. Not that heat was a problem in 2011 when cool weather pushed the harvest out six weeks later than in 2010 at the Reichstein-Trenwith vineyard, Renmark. It’s a comparatively low-alcohol wine at 11.5 per cent and makes a good alternative to sauvignon blanc. The flavours are lemony and savoury and the palate soft, but crisp and dry. Yalumba seem to have the right approach with this fairly neutral variety – protective winemaking to retain freshness and a short period on yeast lees to build palate texture.

Louee Nullo Mountain Rylestone Chardonnay 2011 $25
Louee Nullo Mountain Rylestone Riesling 2011 $25

Mudgee’s David Lowe advocates lower alcohol wines as a responsible step for Australian winemakers. He also recognises the challenges in achieving ripe grape flavours at lower sugar levels (and hence lower alcohol). His Louee Mountain vineyard, at 1100 metres, offers the cool conditions likely to achieve this balance. The very cool 2011 vintage, however, pushes the concept to the limit – and perhaps beyond the threshold of many drinkers. The very austere, 10 per cent alcohol riesling may age well, but challenges the palate right now. Likewise the 11 per cent alcohol chardonnay promises much for the future, as age accentuates its intense grapefruit and white peach varietal flavours and the searing acidity mellows. There’s a parallel between these wines and the long-lived, low-alcohol semillons Lowe mastered during his years in the Hunter Valley.

Punt Road Napoleone Vineyard Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2010 $22.79–$26
After not producing any wines in the heat and bushfires of 2009, Punt Road makes a classy comeback with this delicious 2010 pinot noir, made by Kate Goodman. She describes 2010 as “one of the dream vintages, certainly the highlight of the last decade”. Sourced from the Napoleone vineyard, the limpid, crimson-rimmed wine seduces with its pure, vibrant red-berry aromas and savoury, spicy background. These characters flow through to a taut, intense palate with fine tannins giving excellent structure. It’s approachable now, but needs four or five years bottle age for pinot’s sweet, velvety mid palate to flourish.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 5 February 2012 in The Canberra Times