Wine review — Dandelion, Maipenrai, Moss Wood, Punt Road, Penny’s Hill and Hartz Barn

Dandelion Wonderland of the Eden Valley Riesling 2012 $22–$27.50
Colin Kroehn Vineyard, Eden Valley, South Australia
God knows where Colin Kroehn’s riesling grapes went before Dandelion’s bright young people came along. But since their arrival we’ve tasted some of the finest, most delicate Eden Valley riesling on offer – a particularly juicy, taut and delicate wine in the 2012 vintage. The Dandelion team includes Carl Lindner, Brad Rey, Zar Brooks and Elena Brooks, winemaker. Octogenarian Colin Kroehn tends his venerable old vines, planted in 1912.

Maipenrai Pinot Noir 2010 $34
Maipenrai vineyard, Sutton, Canberra District, New South Wales

Heavy rain before vintage split 80 per cent of the pinot grapes on Brian Schmidt’s Maipenrai vineyard. “We were spared botrytis”, writes Schmidt, “and the remaining fruit ripened under near perfect conditions. To ensure high quality, our fruit was picked by 100 people who went through the vineyard, grape by grape, and cut out all the split fruit. We were only able to produce two barrels”. It’s a successful wine and a pleasure to drink. We enjoyed it beside the Moss Wood Mornington wine, also reviewed today. They’re contrasting styles – Maipenrai offering bright, deep fruit flavours cocooned by the assertive tannins that seem to characterise the vineyard’s wines. There’s also a juicy texture, a touch of oak pushing through and a teasing, biting savoury element adding to the excitement. Available at $100 for 3 bottles at

Moss Wood Pinot Noir 2010 $45
Dromana, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

Moss Wood makes two pinots – one from estate vineyards in Margaret River, the other from Mornington Peninsula. I served the estate wine masked to a couple of experienced wine people and neither identified the variety – though we all enjoyed it as a lovely, medium-bodied dry red. The Mornington wine, on the other hand, could’ve been nothing but pinot, and a very good example of it. It’s fragrant, silky, smooth and seamless, with “pinosity”, an elusive element setting pinot apart from other red varieties.

Punt Road Chemin Chardonnay 2011 $40
Napoleone vineyard, Yarra Valley, Victoria
Punt Road’s new wine, made by Kate Goodman, comes from the oldest vines on the Napoleone family’s vineyard. The cool season naturally pushes the wine towards the lighter, finer end of the chardonnay spectrum – characteristics enhanced by hand harvesting and gentle handling. Two thirds of the wine was fermented in barrel; the remaining third on skins in tanks. As a result the wine shows the finesse and rich but soft texture resulting from barrel fermentation, with a little tweak of soft tannins from the skin contact – all held together by bright, zingy acidity.

Penny’s Hill Skeleton Key Shiraz 2010 $35
Penny’s Hill Vineyard, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Could McLaren Vale be getting the drop on its South Australian, warm-climate shiraz rival, the Barossa Valley? I’ve seen no research to support this, but over the past few years I’ve heard many casual wine drinkers talking up the Vale’s shiraz – far more than’ve spontaneously spruiked for the Barossa. The latest praise flowed over this beautiful Penny’s Hill wine, made by Ben Riggs. It shows the Vale’s generous, bright, sweet fruit flavours, backed by velvety tannins and complex earthy and savoury notes – a full-bodied, satisfying wine without the hotness or heaviness sometimes seen from warmer regions.

Hartz Barn Reserve General Store Riesling 2011 $25–$31
Eden Valley, South Australia
Chris and Robyn Scroggy’s Quarterdeck restaurant, in a converted boatshed on Wagonga Inlet, Narooma, offers fresh seafood in a beautiful, casual, quirky setting. The wine list reflects the tastes of Quarterdeck patrons, meaning we skip over a long list of sauvignon blancs (“they love Marlborough”, says Chris Scroggy) to the solitary riesling – a wine seemingly made for fish and chips. From the cold 2011 vintage, its brisk acidity cuts through the fat and salt like lemon juice, while the more delicate floral notes and fruity flavours simply add to the drinking pleasure. It’s available online and in selected restaurants on the south coast.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2013
First published 30 January 2013 in The Canberra Times