Wine review — Main Ridge, Prancing Horse Estate, Oliver’s Taranga, Paxton, Seppeltsfield and Langmeil

Main Ridge Estate Chardonnay 2011 $55
Main Ridge vineyard, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
In a tasting of top-shelf chardonnays from the cold 2011 vintage, Main Ridge stood out from its bonier peers. The shift to leaner, tighter chardonnays in Australia has been overall a good thing, though some wines do seem a little too skinny, especially in very cool seasons. But even in one of the wettest, coolest vintages Nat and Rosalie white manage to keep some flesh on the bone. Theirs is an elegant chardonnay, in the best sense of the word – finely structured and delicate, but with beautiful fruit flavours, a subtle, sweet, caramel-like undercurrent (probably a result of malolactic fermentation) and smooth, silky mid palate and brisk, clean finish.

Prancing Horse Estate Pinot Noir 2010 $65
Prancing Horse vineyard, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
Prancing Horse vineyard dates from 1990. But after a change in ownership in 2002, writes Tony Hancy, it was “rejuvenated with an extreme pruning regime. Additional clones were grafted into the sit alongside the existing MV6 and great effort went into changing the trellis system from Scott Henry to VSP [vertical shoot positioning]”. Hancy engaged Burgundian biodynamic wine consultant, Pascal Marchand, a soil expert, Professor Yves Herody, and winemaker Sergio Carlei. The team is clearly getting it all right as this is an outstanding pinot, showing intense, savoury fruit flavours and a strong, fine backbone of tannin.

Oliver’s Taranga Fiano 2013 $24
Oliver’s Taranga Vineyard, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Put this spritely white in you notebook for spring. Winemaker Corrina Wright, a sixth generation Oliver of Taranga, McLaren Vale, mixes several Italian and Spanish varieties in the family’s extensive plantings of more traditional cultivars. Wright’s fiano, an Italian white variety, is bracingly acidic but also richly textured, with a sweet kiss of residual grape sugar offsetting the high acid. Wright says the very low pH of two needed a little sugar coating. It’s something different and exhilarating for the coming summer.

Paxton AAA Shiraz Grenache 2011 $20
Paxton vineyards, McLaren Vale, South Australia
David Paxton and family operate several vineyards in McLaren. Paxton originally grew and sold grapes, and was involved in establishing several significant vineyards – including Hardys highly regarded Hoddles Creek vineyard in the Yarra Valley. However, the Paxtons moved to wine making a few years back and intend ultimately to process all of their own grapes for the Paxton label. AAA, a delicious, savoury, medium-bodied blend, is their biggest seller, offering the regional style at a fair price.

Seppeltsfield Solero DP117 Pale Dry Flor 500ml $29–$32
Seppeltsfield vineyard, Barossa Valley, South Australia
That unique Barossa wine estate, Seppeltsfield, sits on a treasure trove of fortified wine, stretching back in an unbroken sequence to the 1878 vintage. The company’s stocks include a solera of this thrilling, salty, briny, tangy fino “sherry” style made from palomino grapes grown on the estate. With an average age of eight years in barrel, it offers a fine and thrilling expression of this Spanish inspired style, so suited to savoury food like olives and anchovies.

Langmeil Eden Valley Riesling 2012 $25
Eden Valley, South Australia
On a cold Barossa day we arrived at Tanunda’s 1918 restaurant ready for a hot meal and cold drink. We asked the waitress for something refreshing, and she delivered Langmeil’s delicious Eden Valley riesling. The shimmering green-gold colour appealed enormously and the thrill carried through to the generous, vigorous, lime-like flavours. It’s a fuller-bodied version of the Eden Valley style, giving great drink-now appeal but without sacrificing vibrancy and freshness.

Copyright Chris Shanahan 2013
First published 7 August 2013 in the Canberra Times and