Wine review — Schloss Vollrads, Shaw and Smith, Red Knot, Petaluma, Canard-Duchene and Gaelic Cemetery

Schloss Vollrads Auslese Riesling 2009 $38–$40 375ml
Oestrich-Winkel, Rheingau, Germany

It’s three and a half years old, but young, fresh, vibrant and almost certainly good for another ten years. But why wait? At a recent masked tasting we honed in on the style and origin of the wine with ease, so clear is its identity. The pale lemon colour, low alcohol (7.5 per cent), delicate perfume and sharply detailed fruit flavour appealed from the first sip – its fairly high sugar content is in complete harmony with the fruit and fine, intense backbone of acidity. This is a fine Rhein River specialty at a fair price. It’s imported by Woolworths-owned Dan Murphy’s.

Shaw and Smith Shiraz 2010 $37–$45
Adelaide Hills, South Australia

At the recent Winewise Championship I was very much taken by Shaw and Smith’s 2009 Shiraz. However, I rate the 2010 a notch higher. It sits at the more powerful end of the house style. It’s medium bodied and elegantly structured, as you’d expect in the cool growing climate; but the deep, intense-crimson colour, opulent, seductive aroma and palate-saturating fruit flavours, cut with very good oak, probably outweigh any they’ve made in the past. Winemakers Martin Shaw and Darryl Catlin say the fruit comes from “low yielding vines at Balhannah, the central Adelaide Hills, and Macclesfield, the warmer and drier sub-region to the south”.

Red Knot by Shingleback Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2012 $10.40–$15
McLaren Vale, South Australia
The Davey family’s Red Knot range delivers some of the best value for money drinking in the market. Red drinkers twigged to this a few years back, and retailers responded by including the wines among their regular discounts. The wines easily deserve $15 a bottle. But they’re bargains when the price drops closer to $10 – as they were when I wrote this review. The 2012 blend leads with the lovely musk-like fragrance of grenache, supported on the soft and juicy palate by the richness of shiraz and spiciness of mourvedre.

Petaluma White Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 $22–$24
Coonawarra, South Australia
Petaluma’s new white label cabernet provides aromatic, soft, drink-now pleasure. It’s an elegant style, built on Coonawarra’s unique ripe-berry flavours, backed by a pleasant, dusty/woody sweetness, derived from maturation in French oak barrels.

Canard-Duchene Brut Rose Champagne $80
Champagne, France

Canard-Duchene was founded in 1868 by Victor Canard and Leonie Duchene. It was associated for a time with the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy Group before being acquired by the Thienot group in 2003. I enjoyed the wines on a number of occasions in the early 1980s but hadn’t seen it since until its distributor, Red and White, provided bottles for review. The house style tends to be generous and fruity but very delicate. In the rose – a blend of pinot noir (45 per cent, 10 per cent of it red wine), pinot meunier (30 per cent) and chardonnay (25 per cent) – sweet, aromatic strawberry/raspberry flavours from the two pinots dominate a round, soft, delicately off-dry palate.

Gaelic Cemetery Vineyard Reserve Riesling 2012 $35
Gaelic Cemetery vineyard, Clare Valley, South Australia

The more floral rieslings don’t do it with oysters for me. The tangy, briny aftertaste tends to overwhelm the delicate fruitiness of these wines. On the other hand, steely, firm, minerally, bone-dry whites can accentuate oyster flavours. Neil Pike’s intense, steely riesling fits that description and combined deliciously with fresh-shucked Narooma oysters. Pike makes the wine from fruit grown on Grant Arnold’s Gaelic Cemetery vineyard. It’s a complete contrast to the softer, more floral version reviewed last week. Pike explains the extra backbone in the reserve version, saying it was “handpicked, whole bunch pressed and fermented with partial solids”.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2013
First published 27 March 2013 in The Canberra Times and