Wine review — Moorilla, Chateau Semeillan Mazeau, Brookland Valley, Rob Dolan and Jim Barry

Moorilla Muse Pinot Noir 2011 $48
Moorilla Derwent vineyard, St Matthias Tamar vineyard, Tasmania
The appointment of Conor van der Reest as winemaker in 2007 precipitated a dramatic turnaround in the quality of Moorilla’s wines, achieved largely by slashing yields from the company’s Derwent and Tamar vineyards. The two exciting pinots reviewed today demonstrate the extent of that quality turnaround. Muse pinot noir comes predominantly from Moorilla’s Derwent vineyard, containing vines Claudio Alcorso established from cuttings he collected in Burgundy in 1963. The lovely aroma reveals a spectrum of fragrant pinot characters, including fruit, stalkiness and savouriness. But it’s on the palate the wine really delivers with its juicy depth, stalk and spice seasoning, slippery texture and fine but sturdy backbone of tannin. The intense flavour and firm backbone derive partly from oak, though this is completely integrated with the fruit. Will probably cellar well for 5–10 years.

Moorilla Praxis Pinot Noir 2012 $30
Moorilla St Matthias vineyard, Tamar River, Tasmania
Moorilla Praxis offers a contrast to its sturdier, more savoury and tannic cellar mate, Muse. The highly aromatic nose suggests strawberries and raspberries, though there’s a hint of stalk and pinot savouriness, too. Sweet red-berry flavours reflect the aroma. And these bold fruit flavours remain the central feature of a wine deriving its structure from acidity as well as tannin. It offers lovely drinking now and should drink well for another three or four years.

Chateau Semeillan Mazeau 2005 $49
Listrac-Medoc, Bordeaux, France
In cooler years wines from Bordeaux’s hinterland, such as Moulis and Listrac, tend to be under-ripe and therefore lean and green on the palate. However, in warm seasons like 2005 the wines can be fully ripe and very good indeed. Chateau Semeillan falls into this category. An elegant, 50:50 blend of merlot and cabernet, it offers fully ripened berry flavours, cut through with sturdy but round tannins – of an all-pervasive style that we never see in Australian cabernet-merlot blends – and which, indeed, define the “claret” style. (Imported by

Brookland Valley Unison Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 $17–$20
Margaret River, Western Australia
Whether to drink Brookland Valley Unison or Chateau Semeillan Mazeau at double the price seems partly a question of style and not just one of quality. The French red offers good fruit tightly bound up in tannin – thus putting texture and structure on an equal footing with that fruit. Brookland Valley, on the other hand puts varietal fruit to the fore – both in the sweet aroma and juicy vibrance of the palate. Tannin supports the fruit but without adding depth or length. It offers simply, fruity drink-now pleasure at a fair price

Rob Dolan True Colours Chardonnay 2012 $22–$24
Yarra Valley, Victoria
In a wine show this score would be equivalent to a silver medal – a rating we give to fault-free wines showing clear varietal character and above average depth and interest. The wine appeals because it offers the richness and nectarine-like flavour of chardonnay with body and barrel-derived complexities – but not oakiness or heaviness. It’s a really good example of bright, modern Australian chardonnay from veteran maker, Rob Dolan..

Jim Barry Watervale Riesling 2013$15–$19
Jim Barry Florita vineyard, Watervale, South Australia
Clare’s warm, dry 2013 season resulted in an early harvest and, for Jim Barry Wines at least, an aromatic, pure and full-flavoured riesling. Peter Barry welcomed the low disease pressure of the dry season and the resulting clean fruit. The 2013 bears Watervale’s signature lime-like varietal flavour and delicacy, albeit in a slightly more full-bodied style than 2012 and 2011. The wine is nevertheless delicate, bone dry and mouth-wateringly fresh. There’s a long pedigree to rieslings from this vineyard, sold originally under the Leo Buring and Lindeman labels. The Barry family bought the vineyard from Lindemans in 1986.

Copyright Chris Shanahan 2013
First published 17 July 2013 in the Canberra Times and