Wine review — Printhie, Brokenwood, Xanadu and Kate Hill

Printhie MCC Shiraz 2011 $36
Printhie Phalaris vineyard, Orange, NSW
Some time back, vignerons in Orange, NSW, nominated sauvignon blanc as their hero variety. But Printhie’s Dave Swift puts shiraz and chardonnay at the top of the regional pile. He writes, “These are the varieties that are proving to be the region’s best performers”. Shiraz performs best in Printhie’s lower (620 metres), warmer sites while chardonnay shines at a significantly cooler 900 metres. The two wines reviewed today support Swift’s claim brilliantly. Either could’ve been wine of the week. The deeply coloured shiraz offers the intense spice and pepper, medium body and fine tannins typical of cool-grown shiraz. It holds a couple of trophies and gold medals, including one from the very competitive Royal Sydney Wine Show 2013.

Printhie MCC Chardonnay 2011 $36
Orange, NSW
Every now and then Orange throws up an elegant chardonnay of great purity and beauty. I recall several under Murray Smith’s Canobolas Smith label, and an absolutely beautiful Rosemount Estate 1994, made by Philip Shaw, a wine that went on winning show medals for many years. Printhie’s 2011, made by Drew Tuckwell, joins this elite group. It no doubt enjoyed all the tricks winemakers throw at chardonnay. But an intense citrus- melon-like varietal character remains at the centre, completely subsuming the winemaker inputs into the rich texture and complex flavours. This is a classy chardonnay and probably good for five or six years in the cellar.

Brokenwood Semillon 2012 $25
Lower Hunter (Pokolbin and Broke-Fordwich) and Upper Hunter, NSW
Brokenwood’s new release semillon draws fruit from its home base in Pokolbin, the adjoining Broke valley and vineyards further up the Hunter Valley. It weighs in at just 10.5 per cent alcohol, contains an undetectable 4.8 grams per litre of residual grape sugar and acidity of 6.9 grams a litre. That combination gives a light, gentle, crisp, dry white featuring the distinctive citrus and lemongrass-like aromas and flavours of early picked semillon. It’s a delicate, aperitif style with the ability to develop rich, honeyed flavours with bottle age.

Xanadu Next of Kin Shiraz 2011 $18
Margaret River, Western Australia
Xanadu is the Margaret River arm of the Rathbone Group, comprising, as well, Yering Station (Yarra Valley), Mount Langi Ghiran (Grampians) and Parker Estate (Coonawarra). Xanadu’s Next of Kin range offers really good, drink-now regional wines at prices well below the premium offerings. The shiraz, though 14.5 per cent alcohol, seems more medium than full-bodied. Vibrant berry flavours drive the wine, but these are satisfying layered with spicy and savoury notes and soft, easy tannins.

Kate Hill Riesling 2012 $28
Kate Hill sources fruit from growers in Tasmania’s Derwent, Coal River and Huon Valleys and makes wine in her Huonville winery, a converted 100-year-old apple cool store. Her delicate, dry riesling (11.8 per cent alcohol) is far removed in style from the ones we know from warm mainland sites like Clare Valley, Eden Valley and Canberra. It’s more akin to the German style in flavour, though somewhat fuller and firmer. This and a few others I’ve tasted make it easy to imagine Tasmania as Australia’s riesling capital in the years ahead.

Kate Hill Pinot Noir 2010 $36
Coal River Valley and Derwent Valley, Tasmania
Australia’s pinot scene grows more exciting and varied every day, with Tasmania steadily moving from potential to achievement. Kate Hill’s sits in the latter category ¬¬– a richly textured, medium-bodied style of modest alcohol (13 per cent). It features ripe, cherry-like varietal character, a subtle, stalky note and a finely structured palate with quite firm tannins. We see this positive character quite often in Burgundy but not so much in Australia’s generally softer styles. This is a brand to watch. Hill says she’ll be planting one to two hectares of pinot noir this spring and opening a cellar door in 2014. See for stockists.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2013
First published 2 April 2013 on and 3 April 2013 in The Canberra Times