Wine review — YarraLoch, De Bortoli, Church Road, Tim Adams, Punt Road and Chalmers

YarraLoch Stephanie’s Dream Pinot Noir 2010 $50
Coldstream, Yarra Valley, Victoria
Stephen Wood owns the YarraLoch brand and vineyards and wine is made under contract by David Bicknell. In 2010 the pinot’s an absolute stunner with its brilliant, medium hue, delicious perfume and thrilling, deeply layered palate. It’s produced from two clones of low-yielding pinot, converted to wine through three different fermentation techniques – including labour-intensive foot stomping and hand plunging for two components. The fermentations use a combination of wild and inoculated yeast and maturation is in range of French oak vessels of varying age and size. The result is pristine, highly concentrated, elegant pinot with deep underlying savouriness. Should evolve well for many years.

De Bortoli Windy Peak Pinot Noir 2010 $11.40–$1410
Yarra Valley, Victoria
The profound finessing of Australian wine now underway means we can marvel at a glorious pinot, like the Yarraloch Stephanie’ reviewed here today – or simply enjoy the exuberant varietality of a Windy Peak. The former flourished for days on the tasting bench – a wine with a future as well as a present. The latter provided a slurpy, pure-pinot juiciness, complete with tannin structure and rich texture – at its best the day we opened it.

Church Road Chardonnay 2010 $21–$26
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Church Road, founded in the 1890s, now sits with Australia’s Jacob’s Creek and New Zealand compatriot wine brands, Brancott Estates and Stoneleigh, under the ownership of France’s Pernod Ricard. Church Road seems to be a style in transition from old-fashioned, turbo-charged oak-fruit-malo-leesy gob-filler, to a more refined modern style. I hear the 2011’s finer again than the 2010, which still sits in the big, ripe, juicy, richly textured style – clearly revealing the winemaking influences on the lovely fruit flavour. It’s a very appealing drink, but may be a little over the top for some palates.

Tim Adams Riesling 2011 $19–$22
Clare Valley, South Australia
Tim Adams’ searingly bone-dry riesling attacks with the intensity of unsweetened, fresh squeezed lime juice – exquisitely delicate and mouth puckering at the same time. It’s a little too mouth puckering to enjoy on its own. But the high acidity works well with fish, cutting through the oiliness; and it enhances the briny bite of oysters. The combination of intense flavour, delicacy and high acidity also suggest outstanding long-term cellaring potential. Over time, the varietal flavour and texture of wines like this build in very pleasing ways.

Punt Road Merlot 2010 $24–$27
Napoleone Vineyard, Coldstream, Yarra Valley, Victoria
Winemaker Kate Goodman made just 500 dozen of this wine from two older blocks of the Napoleone vineyard (established 1983). Goodman writes, “the fruit was crushed and soaked for three days to aid colour and flavour extraction. After fermentation, it was pressed and matured in a combination of new and seasoned oak for 12 months”. The result is vividly coloured wine of medium hue and body. The vibrant, fruity flavour comes coated in soft tannins. But these seem to tighten up a after the first glass – showing us that we should never take merlot too lightly.

Chalmers Fiano 2010 $20–$27
Euston, Murray Darling region, New South Wales
Fiano, an ancient Italian white variety widely planted in southern Italy and Sicily, seems at home in the Chalmers family vineyard at Euston, New South Wales. Kim Chalmers says they ferment two thirds of the blend in stainless steel, but complete the other third in old French oak barrels. They blend the barrel-aged portion with the stainless steel component, then age the blend in bottle for a year “to accentuate fiano’s unctuous texture and allow the highly acidic and delicately stone-fruity variety to develop some roundness and weight”. The leesy barrel component dominates the aroma. Nevertheless a unique, pleasantly tart, savouriness pushes through.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 25 April 2012 in The Canberra Times