Wine review — Ravensworth, Torbreck, Penfolds, Oakridge and Tar and Roses

Ravensworth Shiraz Viognier 2012 $30–$33
Ravensworth vineyard
Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW

Winemaker Bryan Martin writes, “A small crop survived the hail and biblical downpour of the 2012 vintage”. The surviving fruit, however, made a terrific wine. On first opening, heady floral aromas dominate and are reflected on the palate. But after a good splash, the aromas expand to include spices, pepper, ripe, red berries and a light stalky/stemmy character. These are all consistent with high quality, cool-grown shiraz co-fermented with viognier – and in contact with whole bunches (and hence stems). The flavours on the medium bodied palate reflect the aroma, while fine, persistent tannins add grip and length to the smooth, deeply textured palate. It’s a fragrant, elegant, fine-boned shiraz with good medium-term cellaring potential. See for stockists.

Torbreck Woodcutters Shiraz 2012 $21.45–$23
Barossa Valley, South Australia
David Powell makes a number of Barossa shirazes and blends, including his flagship Run Rig ($275) and one-off The Laird 2006 ($700) from Malcolm Seppelt’s vineyard near Seppeltsfield. Powell’s more earthly, entry-level shiraz comes from younger vines grown across the Barossa’s diverse sub-regions: Marananga, Greenock, Ebenezer, Gomersal, Moppa, Lyndoch and Kalimna. It’s generous but round and beautifully balanced red, centred on ripe Barossa fruit flavours and the region’s typically soft tannins. We enjoyed ours with a rare sirloin and chips at Edgar’s, Ainslie – hearty food for a hearty wine. Price there was a reasonable $44 a bottle, but expect to pay half that retail.

Ravensworth “The Grainery” 2012 $27–$30
Ravensworth vineyard, Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW
In the rain-reduced 2012 vintage, Bryan Martin chucked all of his white varieties together – bar riesling. The Rhone Valley varieties – marsanne, roussanne and viognier – joined chardonnay in the blending vat, creating an idiosyncratic mix of great interest. It’s a full-flavoured, soft dry white with a rich, lightly viscous texture, and a subtle, pleasantly tart and savoury element – probably derived from tannins in the fruit. Pushing through these textural and savoury elements is a delicious little bubble of apricot-like flavour, presumably from the viognier component. It’s available online and through selected stockists – see for details.

Penfolds Magill Estate Shiraz 2010 $130
Magill vineyard, Adelaide, South Australia
While the prices of Grange and Bin 707 confidently roar ahead internationally, Magill appears to be stalled. Certainly the auction price of past vintages suggests this year’s asking price to be way ahead of the market. The highly regarded 1996, for example, fetches $75–$95 under the Langton’s hammer; and the 2008 $50–$70. Price quibbles aside, the 2010 is as good a Magill as I’ve tasted since the inaugural 1983 vintage. Within the world of burly Penfolds’ reds, it’s medium bodied; and in 2010 with delicious ripe fruit seductively layered with fruit and oak tannins and attractive soy-like savouriness.

Oakridge “Over the Shoulder” Pinot Noir 2012 $17–$23
Yarra Valley, Victoria
The lowest priced of Oakridge’s pinots combines fruit from five Yarra sub-regions – Coldstream, Yarra Glen, Seville, Woori Yallock and Gembrook. Applying “traditional methods” to hand picked grapes from these vineyards, David Bicknell made one of the best pinots I’ve seen at this price. It combines the vibrant, aromatic and red-berry varietal character of pinot with savouriness, earthiness and, in particular, texture and fine tannic grip on the palate – vital pinot elements offing missing from less expensive attempts. It’s just a delight to drink and bound to convert yet more pinot doubters to the fold.

Tar and Roses Pinot Grigio 2012 $18
Central Victoria, Victoria
The light bronze tint of Tar and Roses points to the origin of pinot grigio (or pinot gris, literally “grey pinot”) – a mutant of Burgundy’s noble red variety, pinot noir. Like the red version, the white mutant grows best in cool climates. But the range of flavours (or lack of it) and styles varies so widely in Australia, it’s sometimes hard to believe they’re all made from the same variety. This one, however, captures much of the elusive pinot character, in this instance a full-bodied, crisp, richly textured, bone-dry white with a notably savoury, tannic bite.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2013
First published 12 June 2013 in the Canberra Times and