Wine review — Moppity Vineyards, Oakridge, The Winesmiths, Yalumba and Hahndord Hill

Moppity Vineyards Lock and Key Chardonnay 2012 $17
Coppabella Vineyard, Tumbarumba, NSW
At the 2013 regional show, Lock and Key topped a line up of 24 chardonnays, ultimately winning the trophy as best chardonnay of the show. Wines from Tumbarumba dominated the class, winning all five gold medals. Moppity entered four chardonnays and won four medals – two gold, one silver and one bronze. That humble Lock and Key, the cheapest of the four, topped the class underlines the inherent quality of Tumbarumba chardonnay – and the wine’s greater drink-now appeal when compared to its more austere, slow-evolving cellar mates. Moppity’s Jason Brown says it’s a blend from several blocks on his 70-hectare Coppabella vineyard. He selected fruity components for the blend and fermented 70 per cent of it in stainless steel tanks to preserve freshness. A barrel fermented component added texture and complexity. Nevertheless, it’s a lean, taut, delicious style, reminiscent of ripe, fresh nectarine, liberally doused with grapefruit juice – a thrilling combination.

Moppity Vineyards Chardonnay 2012 $25
Coppabella Vineyard, Tumbarumba, NSW
Judges at the regional show awarded gold medal scores (55.5 and 57 respectively out of 60) to this and its cellar mate, Lock and Key. Both come from Jason and Alicia Brown’s Coppabella vineyards, but offer different expressions of the variety. This one uses fruit selected for its power and intensity – characteristics emphasised by fermentation and maturation of 70 per cent of the blend in oak barrels. Tasting the two side by side, the judges’ preference for the drink-now style of the cheaper wine seems understandable. But the Moppity, I suspect, will blossom after another year or two in bottle.

Oakridge Local Vineyard Series Guerin Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012 $38
Guerin vineyard, Gladysdale, Yarra Valley, Victoria
Winemaker David Bicknell offers two 2012 pinot noirs from the Guerin vineyard. The flagship 864 Block 4 sells for $75. But for half that price this cheaper wine delivers 90 per cent of the quality. That’s the law of diminishing returns for you. Bicknell’s pinots rate among the best in Australia. And he makes quite a pile of them – each fine-tuned to express fruit from various Yarra Valley sites. Of the current single-vineyard releases, Guerin appeals strongly. It brings the pure ripe-berry flavours of pinot, deeply meshed with mouth-watering savouriness, a twist of stalkiness and the great weight and textural richness of really good pinot. A firm tannin backbone completes the picture.

The Winesmiths Tempranillo 2012 $18.99 2-litre wine cask
South Australia

In July, Samuel Smith and Son, an arm of Robert Hill Smith’s Yalumba group, launched this new upmarket range of wine casks – pinot grigio, chardonnay, tempranillo and shiraz. The cask, made from a claimed 75 per cent recyclable goods and 13 per cent the carbon footprint of wine bottle, has a decidedly wholesome, wholemeal appearance. It looks like recycled cardboard. But the wine inside certainly doesn’t taste like it’s been drunk before. This is rich, fresh, fruity tempranillo with a healthy load of mouth-puckering tannin.

Yalumba The Strapper Grenache Shiraz Mataro 2012 $17–$22
Barossa, South Australia
After the leaner, lighter 2011 vintage reviewed in July, The Strapper 2012 returns to its opulent Barossa best. The floral, sweet, enticing aroma of grenache leads to a full, round, juicy palate with the body of shiraz and spicy, tannic character of mataro. It’s a blend of 40 per cent grenache, 35 per cent shiraz and 25 per cent mataro, matured for nine months in a variety of Hungarian and French oak vessels, new and old. The oak built the texture of the wine with inserting oaky flavours.

Hahndorf Hill Winery Gruner Veltliner 2013 $28
Hahndorf Hill vineyard, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Hahndorf Hill owners Larry Jacobs and Marc Dobson identified a fit between Austria’s late-ripening gruner veltliner and their elevated, continental-climate vineyard site in the Adelaide Hills. Jacobs says the 2013 season provided ideal, slow, ripening conditions. He picked fruit at various ripeness levels, allowed a portion of juice contact with skins (encouraging uptake of tannin), then fermented the juice in various parcels – some in stainless steel with cultured yeast, some in old oak barriques using ambient yeasts. The combination captures the freshness of the fruit but builds in a rich texture, from the barrel-fermented component, and a little tannic tweak to the finish, courtesy of the skin contact. It’s a unique, full-bodied, bright, spicy, savoury dry white of great appeal.

Copright © Chris Shanahan 2013
First published 13 November 2013 in the Canberra Times and