Eden Road Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2012 $40
Maragle and Courabyra vineyards, Tumbarumba, NSW
Canberra’s Nick Spencer made three 2012 chardonnays from Tumbarumba – this blend from the Maragle and Courabyra vineyards, plus individual wines from each site. There’s a family style in their lean, tight, pure flavours; but differences, too, based on the altitude of the sites and winemaking techniques. The barrel-fermented blend (silver medallist at the regional show) delivers generous nectarine-like varietal flavour, albeit in Spencer’s tight, smooth-textured style. Barrel-fermented Maragle 2012 (silver medallist, $50), from a comparatively warm site at 400 metres, uses notable more new oak than the blend. This influences the fuller, nectarine-and-peach flavours on the palate – though the wine remains a comparatively lean, tight style. The tank-fermented Courabyra 2012 (bronze medal, $50), shows the soaring acidity of the cool, 750-metre site. It brings grapefruit-like acerbity to a pure-fruited, distinctive unoaked style. I suspect these wines will age well, though cellaring remains an act of faith at this early stage of the brand.
Eden Road Canberra Riesling 2013 $30
Long Rail Gully vineyard, Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW
A bronze medal in the regional wine show matches my own rating for a clean, fresh, well made riesling. Delicious, citrus-like varietal flavour gives it some immediate drinking appeal, though I suspect the fruit flavour to assert itself over the austere acids with a little time in bottle. The difference should become apparent over the next few months. This is characteristic of many Canberra rieslings, though the 2013s, in general, seem more approachable when young than the 2012s did.
Mount Horrocks Riesling 2013 $32
Watervale, Clare Valley, South Australia
Everything appeals about Stephanie Toole’s 2013 riesling – favourite by a big margin in a trio of 2013s from Canberra, Great Southern and Watervale. The shimmering, green-tinted colour gave it a visual edge – matched by its pure, lime-like varietal aroma and fine, delicate, mouth-watering, dry palate. The wine should evolve well for several years, though it’s racy and a thrill to drink now
Tahbilk Shiraz 2010 $16–$20
Tahbilk vineyard, Nagambie Lakes, Victoria
Tahbilk, the Purbrick family property established in 1860, produces a distinctive shiraz style, with its own little slot on the variety’s very wide Australian spectrum. Like those from other cooler regions, it’s medium bodied. And there’s black pepper and spice seasoning the underlying berry flavours – both clear shiraz characteristics. But the firm, even bony, tannins separate Tahbilk from other medium bodied shirazes. The tannins bite and thrust, giving a firm, savoury finish to the dry palate.
Bests Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 $26–$30
Best’s vineyard, Great Western Victoria
Unquestionably shiraz is the standout variety on the Thomson family’s Great Western Vineyard – wines polished to an exceptional standard in the last two decades under Viv Thomson and, since 2008, his son, Ben. Cabernet performed well, too, in 2012, producing a fragrant, elegant, easy-to-drink wine. It’s built on ripe, blackcurrant flavours, with the variety’s leafy edge and firm but fine tannins. The Great Western vineyards were established by Henry Best in1867 and acquired by the Thomson family in 1920.
Chianti Classico (Corte Carista) 2009 $10
Chianti Classico zone, Tuscany, Italy
Aldi’s Tuscan important takes us well away in style from Australian wines made from the same grape variety, sangiovese. It’s light to medium bodied, taut, bone-dry, earthy and savoury with its cherry-like fruit flavour buried well inside the fine, firm tannins. Like all the Aldi wines I’ve tried to date, it fits the specification, offering very good value for money. The withered little cork snapped in half as we coaxed it from the bottle. But at least the wine emerged clean, fresh and untainted by the cork – something drinkers always risk with this outmoded seal.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2013
First published 23 October 2013 in the Canberra Times and goodfood.com.au