Wine review — Jacob’s Creek, Bay of Fires, Pewsey Vale, Dandelion Vineyard, Half Moon and Peter Lehmann

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Chardonnay 2012 $10.70–$18
Adelaide Hills, South Australia
The high quality of South Australia’s 2012 whites shines through again in Jacob’s Creek Reserve Chardonnay. We quaffed a couple of bottles with Thai food in Terrigal a few weeks back, alongside the Pewsey Vale Riesling 2012, also reviewed today. I rated Pewsey Vale a better match with the spicy food. But an after-dinner glass of the bone-dry, more savoury chardonnay couldn’t have been nicer. It delivered the full, but refined, deep, nectarine-like flavour of cool-grown chardonnay – the flavour completely integrated with minerally, fresh acidity. We bought two bottles for $24 at Vintage Cellars, but Dan Murphy offers it as I write at $10.70 each in six-bottle lots. A few days after our Terrigal dinner, it won a trophy at the Royal Sydney Wine Show.

Bay of Fires Pinot Noir 2011 $32.30–$37
In November, Bay of Fires 2011 won the National Wine Show pinot noir trophy, repeating the success of the 2009 vintage at the 2010 show. And last month it hauled in the trophies again at the Royal Sydney Wine Show. We tried it over dinner recently alongside Giaconda Yarra Valley Beechworth 2008 ($85.49) and Eileen Hardy Tasmania Yarra Valley 2008 ($61.75). Eileen Hardy, Bay of Fires cellar mate, won the day. But runner up, Bay of Fires, ticked all the pinot boxes, except that of maturity. It’s a baby now, but a beautiful one, and only needs time for the intense, fine, fruit to take on secondary savoury, earthy notes. This is a beautiful pinot, largely undiscovered.

Pewsey Vale Riesling 2012 $14.95–$18
Pewsey Vale Vineyard, Eden Valley, South Australia
Pewsey Vale riesling comes from the Hill-Smith family’s 50-hectare Pewsey Vale vineyard, located on the edge of the Eden Valley. Louisa Rose makes the wine just a few kilometres down the hill at the Yalumba Winery, Angaston, centre of the Hill-Smith wine operations. We bought our bottles ($16.66 each) at Vintage Cellars, Terrigal, as company – perfect, as it turned out – for Thai food. The full, fruity, limey richness of an outstanding vintage and ultra-fresh acidity meshed well with the fresh ingredients and sweet, tangy, spiciness of the food. A couple of the diners preferred Jacob’s Creek Reserve Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2012 (wine of the week). But the majority voted with their tongues, draining the riesling bottles first.

Dandelion Vineyards Legacy of the Barossa
30-year-old Pedro Ximenez $27.50 375ml

Lindner vineyard, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Fortunately for drinkers Australia’s treasure trove of wonderful old fortified wines seldom reflect the true price of production. Dandelion’s wonderful pedro ximenez, for examples, averages 30 years in oak barrel from a hoard established by the Lindner family in 1944. In the old days, before Europe reclaimed its wine names, we might have called this “oloroso sherry”. But the maker now uses the varietal name for a magnificent, luscious, yellow-rimmed, amber-orange fortified. It delivers the concentrated autumn-leaf flavours and tangy, fiery edge unique to ancient, oak-aged fortified wines.

Half Moon Moonlight Shiraz 2011 $21
Half Moon Vineyard, Braidwood, NSW
At a stretch of the imagination, such a fine-boned shiraz may well have been ripened under moonlight. More likely though it’s light-to-medium body and peppery, spicy varietal flavour reflect a cold vintage in a cold location. Despite adverse vintage conditions, though, the grower clearly harvested sufficient healthy fruit for Alex McKay to make a really attractive, early-drinking style. It’s lighter bodied, but rich on varietal flavour, with a taut, elegant structure and savoury tannins creating a food-friendly finish.

Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz 2008 $90–100
Stonewell, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Peter Lehmann’s flagship shiraz gets its name from Stonewell, a favoured shiraz growing sub-region in the western Barossa Valley. The wine, capable of ageing for many years, evolved in style over time from a fairly burly, oaky style to the finer product we enjoy today. Winemaker Andrew Wigan’s gradual refinements allowed full, ripe, shiraz to shine through in its unique Barossa way. This is a densely coloured, crimson-rimmed red with deep, sweet fruit cut through with chewy, tender Barossa tannins – a bold, time-proven Barossa statement.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2013
First published 6 March 2013 in The Canberra Times and