St Erth Geelong Pinot Noir 2011 $14.25–$15
The privately owned Ballande Group, based in New Caledonia, owns the Tisdall Winery, established in 1971 in Echuca, Victoria. The company exports under a number of labels and also owns the St Erth brand, which it sells exclusively to the Woolworths-owned Dan Murphy chain. A Geelong-based winemaker sources fruit and makes St Erth in Geelong for Ballande. In the cool 2011 the wine’s on the lighter side, but nevertheless offers a true pinot experience at a very good price. It combines bright, varietal fruit character with fine tannins and a savoury, earthy finish.
Mount Horrocks Watervale Semillon 2012 $25–$33
Stephanie Toole’s oak-fermented semillon offers better drinking than ever in the outstanding 2012 vintage. Fuller bodied than riesling, but lighter than chardonnay, it offers rich flavours but also delicacy and the unique lemon- and lemongrass-like character of the variety. Though fermented and matured entirely in oak barrels, the oak influence is subtle – perhaps adding a vanilla-like flavour – and perceived more in the silky texture the process adds to the wine. O’Toole makes her wines from 10-hectares of vines in the Clare Valley. The semillon comes from the Watervale sub-region at the southern end of the valley.
De Bortoli Sacred Hill Chardonnay 2013 $4.75–$7
De Bortoli Windy Peak Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2012 $9.80–$15
De Bortoli makes chardonnays at many prices, from the humble Sacred Hill ($4.75–$7) to the lofty PHI and Yarra Valley Reserve ($50). The latter rate among the best in Australia. And, as so often happens when wineries strive to be the best, the cheaper wines benefit from what the winemakers learn in their quest for the best. The bright and fresh Sacred Hill offers generous, peachy varietal flavour on a medium bodied, smooth-textured palate. The year older Windy Peak shows the greater flavour intensity and complexity, and stronger acid backbone of the cool Yarra Valley.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2013
First published 27 October 2013 in the Canberra Times