Wine review — Zeppelin, Penfolds, Jim Barry and Annie’s Lane

Zeppelin Shiraz 2010 $16–$20
Angaston foothills, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Winemaker Kym Teusner established Teusner Wines in 2001, sourcing grapes from very old, low-yielding grenache vines threatened by low grape prices. Teusner succeeded, proving the vines to be commercially viable. In the ensuing decade Teusner expanded the range of Barossa vineyards he sourced from, selling the wines under his now highly regarded Teusner label. More recently he introduced the Zeppelin label. Widely distributed by McWilliams, the two Zeppelins reviewed today offer wonderful Barossa flavour at low prices. Teusner says the wines come from 60-to-80-year-old vines. The shiraz will certainly appeal more broadly than the grenache. Its lovely aroma, full, supple, ripe palate and gentle tannins are simply delicious. The wine comes from an old shiraz vineyard near Angaston in the eastern Barossa.

Zeppelin Grenache 2010 $16–$20
Northern Barossa Valley, South Australia
This is comparable in quality to Zeppelin shiraz, our wine of the day. My only caveat, based on years of group tasting, including a recent one featuring both wines, is that people tend to love or hate grenache. And it seldom tops a tasting alongside shiraz. It’s normally more alcoholic than shiraz as it requires longer on vine to ripen; and the colour is usually paler. However, if you like grenache, Zeppelin is a powerful expression of the Barossa style, sourced from 80-year-old vines located between Greenock and Ebenezer. It sometimes presents musk-like for confection-like flavours. But Zeppelin is more earthy and savoury with attractive spicy notes.

Penfolds Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz 2009 $57–$75
Marananga, Western Barossa Valley, South Australia
Marananga, towards the western side of the Barossa, produces powerful shiraz, often making the grade for Grange. The quality of shiraz from the area prompted large-scale vineyard expansion there in the nineties, opening the way for Penfolds to produce a sub-regional wine, Bin 150, in 2008. The second vintage, matured in both French and American oak, is a powerful but graceful Barossa shiraz. The oak and fruit work beautifully together, the fruit always at the centre but enriched by the oak flavour and tannins.

Penfolds Bin 51 Riesling 2011 $23.75–$33
Eden Valley, South Australia
The Eden Valley forms the elevated, eastern boundary of the Barossa region. Significantly cooler than the Barossa floor and the Clare Valley (located to the north on the same ranges), Eden at its best produces lean, tightly structured, intensely flavoured rieslings capable of cellaring for decades. The cool 2011 exacerbates that lean, tight structure. But it also means even more intense fruit flavours in this dry, 11-per-cent alcohol wine. It’s a classy wine offering very good cellaring potential. Watch for the retail discounts, around $10 a bottle below recommended price.

Jim Barry Watervale Riesling 2012 $15.20–$19
Florita vineyard, Watervale, Clare Valley, South Australia
The first 2012 white on the tasting bench sets a cracking pace, and points to an excellent riesling vintage. From the former Leo Buring Florita vineyard (purchased from Lindemans by the Barry family in 1986) the new release hits the palate with impressive lime-like briskness. Dry as a plank, but intensely fruity, it teases and satisfies the palate at the same time. The high acid and fine, intense, lime-like fruit flavour make it an excellent oyster wine. But it’ll mellow and flesh out with cellaring, providing drinking pleasure in various guises for a decade or more.

Annie’s Lane Riesling 2012 $13.30–$21
Clare Valley, South Australia
Annie’s Lane, part of Treasury Wine Estates (spun out of Foster’s), provides notably fuller, softer drinking than Jim Barry’s riesling – variations on the Clare style. Winemaker Alex Mackenzie’s press release offers no information about grape sourcing, winemaking or technical details on the wine. But it’s slightly deeper coloured than the Jim Barry wine, leaning more to floral than lime aroma. The palate reflects the aroma, beginning floral then leaning to roundness and a fresh, lemony finish – but without the jaw-dropping freshness of the comparably priced Barry wine.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 27 June 2012 in The Canberra Times