Wine review — Lerida Estate, Clonakilla, Josef Chromy, d’Arenberg and Riddoch

Lerida Estate Shiraz Viognier $49.50
Lake George, Canberra District, NSW

Lerida’s elegant, restrained 2010 shiraz viognier follows the more opulent highly acclaimed 2009 vintage. The two wines share a regional spiciness, medium body and fine, smooth texture. But in the 2010 an appealing black pepper character, an endearing element in many cool-grown shirazes, adds to a general spiciness seasoning the ripe, supple fruit. A spine of fine but firm tannins adds structure to the soft and silky texture of the palate. The wine is a blend of 95 per cent shiraz and five per cent viognier grown and made at Lerida Estate Lake George.

Lerida Estate Pinot Noir 2011 $26.50
Lake George, Canberra District NSW

I review two pinots today – this savoury, “serious” style from Lake George and a simpler, fruity one from Tasmania. Lerida’s shows the quite firm tannic backbone and rich texture of pinot built for complexity off low-yielding fruit. But it also reveals the character of a very cool growing season. This shows in the light body and reliance on structure and texture more than on fruit flavour. There may be latent fruit, waiting to emerge with bottle age. Or, on the other hand it may just be dilute because of the season, leaving a pleasantly savoury red without the depth and length we see in better seasons.

Clonakilla Chardonnay 2012 $36–$40
Revee Estate, Tumbarumba, and Murrumbateman, NSW

Prepare for more excitement as the oak-fermented and –matured 2012 chardonnays come onto the market – just as the flow of lovely 2012 rieslings tapers off. Tim Kirk’s version combines fruit from Steve Morrison’s Revee Estate, Tumbarumba, with a barrel each from the Clonakilla and Chris Joshua vineyards, Murrumbateman. The Tumbarumba component really shapes the wine, giving the intense, grapefruit-like varietal flavour and taut, acidic backbone. All the usual winemaking tricks around barrel fermentation, lees stirring and maturation add greatly to the texture and appeal of this beautiful wine. The alcohol’s a refreshingly low 12 per cent.

Josef Chromy Pepik Pinot Noir 2011 $19–$22

The Landing restaurant, Newcastle, offers a decent selection of wine by the glass. The wine list, prepared by Hunter vigneron Andrew Margan, features many of the best modern Hunter wines, including the exceptional Meerea Park Terracotta Semillon 2006. Even this was available by the glass – and we indulged (though it’s sold out now says winemaker Garth Eather).  But the list also carries a thoughtful selection of regional varietals from across Australia, including Josef Chromy’s pretty Tasmanian pinot. It’s a bright, fresh, fruity red made to slurp down now – a true regional specialty, revealing a happy, smiling face of pinot that could only ever come from cool-grown grapes.

d’Arenberg The Footbolt Shiraz 2010 $18–$20
McLaren Vale, South Australia

The waitress in Agosti Restaurant, Newcastle, approved of our choice – two glasses of Tyrrell’s Brokenback Shiraz. “What do you think of it?” asks my friend, cautiously. “It’s rough”, I reply, “not fresh”. We ask the waitress, “how long’s it been open”. “Less than a week, mate”, she replies and brings out a fresh bottle – of d’Arenberg Footbolt Shiraz. We wonder what happened to the Tyrrell’s. But as we’re in a rush, we accept the unquestioning offer of free wine. It’s a classic McLaren Vale shiraz – fruity and savoury and supported by mouth coating but soft, ripe tannins. It’s delicious and satisfying and sends us off chuckling in disbelief, “less than a week”

Riddoch Shiraz 2010 $15–$20
Coonawarra, South Australia

This is a Woolworths’ controlled brand, available through its Dan Murphy, BWS and Woolworths Liquor stores and its direct marketing brand, Cellarmasters. Through its Pinnacle Liquor Group, Woolworths is now a major wine producer, though the company employed the services of Katnook Estate Coonawarra winemaker, Wayne Stehbens, in putting this attractive red together. This is medium bodied, spicy shiraz made for early drinking. The price varies from around $15 on special to $20 among the various Woolies retail brands.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2013
First published 1 May 2013 in The Canberra Times and