Wine review — Red Knot, Chapel Hill and Coombe Farm

Red Knot by Shingleback Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 $11.39–$15
That the discounters frequently trim the price of Red Knot is a sure sign of popularity. And popularity, in this instance, proves that Australia’s savvy palates know a bargain when they see one. This is a great example of modern Australian winemaking – starting with good fruit, principally from the Davey family’s Shingleback vineyard, then capturing the varietal flavour structure in the winery. It’s a ripe, juicy, fruity, fresh, flavoursome, lovable, red made to enjoy now. The 2012 offers more fruit than the 2011 it replaces. Now exclusive to Woolworths’-owned Dan Murphy’s. Let’s hope this doesn’t spell an end to the discounting.

Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Chardonnay 2012 $16
Chapel Hill released its first unwooded chardonnay about 20 years ago. Like many other wineries at the time, Chapel Hill wanted a lighter offering than the heavily oaked styles that had become popular in the eighties. In 2011, however, winemakers Michael Fragos and Bryn Richards tweaked the style by fermenting a small portion in old French oak barrels. They’ve continued the practice in the far better 2012 vintage to good effect – retaining chardonnay’s attractive peachy flavour, while weaving in a little more texture and flavour. This is a really attractive white – full-bodied, flavoursome and fresh, but also fine and not at all heavy.

Coombe Farm Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2012 $32
In 2011 the Vestey family engaged Nicole Esdaile to make wine and oversee their 60-hectare Yarra Valley vineyard. They’d previously sold most of the fruit to other wine makers, while making small quantities for their Combe Farm label. Esdaile’s 2012 pinot seems a few notches better than any I’ve seen from the vineyard in the past. It’s a lighter style but captures much of pinot’s magic. The aroma combines ripe-berry varietal flavour with underlying stalky, gamey notes – characteristics reflected on the sensuous, supple, smooth-textured palate. Distributed by Zenith Wine Agencies, phone 1300 883 056 for stockists.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2013
First published 2 June 2013 in the Canberra Times