Wine review — Oakridge, Wilson, Soumah, Larry Cherubino Ad Hoc, Penny’s Hill and Tahbilk

Oakridge Local Vineyard Series Lusatia Park Chardonnay 2012 $38
Lusatia Park vineyard, Woori Yallock, Yarra Valley, Victoria
David Bicknell makes a number of Oakridge chardonnays reflecting the fruit qualities of various individual Yarra Valley vineyards. Bicknell’s Lusatia Park wine, from a Shelmerdine family vineyard at Woori Yallock, reveals the intense but elegant character derived from their elevated, cool site. Bicknell says the fruit was handpicked and whole-bunch pressed direct to 500-litre French oak barrels for spontaneous fermentation. This method retains the delicacy of the fruit, but also contributes to the aroma, flavour and texture of the wine. The excellent vintage delivered a delightful wine – tightly structured and restrained, but mouth wateringly delicious, featuring grapefruit- and white-peach-like varietal flavours.

Wilson DJW Riesling 2013 $24
DJW vineyard, Polish Hill River, Clare Valley, South Australia
Daniel Wilson established the DJW vineyard in 1997 and made the first wine from it in 1997. He says it’s on a higher, more fertile site than the original Wilson vineyard his father planted decades earlier and makes a softer, earlier drinking style. In 2013 that means a pure, loveable riesling of a very high calibre. The colour’s pale and the aroma, while a little coy, offers hints of lime-like varietal character. The lime comes through irresistibly on the fine-textured, dazzling fresh palate.

Soumah Savarro 2013 $26
Yarra Valley, Victoria
The Butcher family owns vineyards in the Gruyere-Coldstream sub-region of the Yarra Valley and created the acronym Soumah (from “south of Maroondah Highway”) as its brand name. Like many other Australian vignerons, the Butchers planted Spain’s albarino only to find the vine had been misidentified and was, in fact, savagnin (aka traminer, and several other names). The Butchers, however, opted for “savarro”. They hand pick the fruit, handle it gently and ferment it in stainless steel to preserve its purity. The 2013 appeals strongly for its lively, savoury, citrusy, tangy, melon-rind-like vitality.

Larry Cherubino Ad Hoc Middle of Everywhere Shiraz 2012 $19–21
Frankland River, Great Southern, Western Australia
Larry Cherubino sourced fruit for Ad Hoc from various sites in Western Australia’s Frankland River region – a distinct part of the much larger Great Southern wine zone. Vines endure heat pushing down from the continent, then benefit from cool afternoon and evening air flowing up from the cold oceans to the south. The unique conditions produce generously flavoured, medium bodied red wines. In Ad Hoc we enjoy ripe, juicy, blueberry-like flavours, cut with an attractive savouriness, on a soft, smooth seductive palate.

Penny’s Hill The Experiment Grenache 2011 $22–$30
Penny’s Hill vineyard, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Back in 1996, the folks at Penny’s Hill trained 18 rows of century-old, previously bush-pruned grenache vines to trellises. The venerable old vines clearly survived their retraining and subsequently made this distinctive dry red. Australian grenache varies enormously in style from floral and confection-like to earthy–savoury. This is more in the latter style. It’s underpinned by very ripe black-cherry-like fruit flavour, interwoven with earthy and savoury characters, partly derived from oak maturation. The savouriness and grippy, rustic tannin make a good match for tart and savoury food – tappas, pizza, olives, anchovy and the like.

Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 $17–$24
Tahbilk vineyard, Nagambie Lakes, Victoria
Tahbilk’s long-lived, medium bodied cabernet comes with a mother load of tannins – sturdy, grippy tannins that permeate the underlying fruit flavours, giving a satisfying, chewy texture. In the 2010 vintage, those tannins seem even more prominent than usual. Though the underlying fruit flavour provides an offsetting sweetness, tannin defines Tahbilk cabernet and account in large part for its great longevity. Serve the wine with juicy, pink lamb or beef, though, and the protein strips away the tannin to reveal the ripe, blackcurrant-like varietal flavour.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2013
First published 20 November 2013 in the Canberra Times