Wine review — Tim Smith Wines, Dr Loosen, John Duval, Domain Day, Ashton Hills and Redbank

Tim Smith Wines Mataro 2012 $36
Greenock and Light Pass, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Tim Smith made wine at Yalumba for 15 years, but now produces his own delicious reds, like this one, discovered at Tanunda’s exciting FermentAsian restaurant. Smith says he loves mataro (aka mourvedre) and sees good cellaring potential in the variety, thanks largely to its firm tannic structure. However, he likes mataro’s fruit unadorned with oak, though the variety takes some taming in older, larger oak vessels before bottling. In the outstanding 2012 vintage, the beautiful, sweet, tender fruit makes for joyous drinking, though there’s sufficient tannin structure to see the wine through perhaps a decade in the cellar. (Available at

Bernkasteler Lay Riesling Kabinett 2011 (Dr Loosen) $33–$36
Lay vineyard, Bernkastel, Mosel River, Germany
Ernie Loosen’s house and office, a stroll downstream from Bernkastel, sit just below the Lay vineyard. Loosen owns part of the vineyard and wines he makes from it carry the village, vineyard and grape varietal names. We bought the wine at Vintage Cellars, Adelaide markets, to accompany the outstanding food of Star of Siam, in Gouger Street. It’s a medium sweet wine of dazzling freshness, with the lightness, intense flavour, delicacy, high acid and rich texture typical of the vineyard. Australian versions of this style face an uphill battle in our warm climate. And few, if any, can match the class of this German original, from one of the great producers of the Mosel River.

John Duval Plexus 2012 $25–$30
Barossa Valley, South Australia
A warm area like the Barossa floor is seldom going to make riesling to match the quality of those from the high, cooler Eden Valley in the hills to the Barossa’s east. If any white styles are to match the region’s reds in quality in future, I’d put my money where John Duval does with Plexus. He uses the Rhone valley varieties, marsanne (55 per cent), roussanne (35 per cent) and viognier (10 per cent), sourced, respectively from Marananga and Seppeltsfield, Kalimna and the Eden Valley. A combination of fermentation regimes, including both tank and barrel, created a full, fresh, richly textured dry white with a distinctive flavour, reminiscent of that sweet-tart area between the flesh and rind of rockmelon. It’s delightful, different and in 2012, particularly rich and sweet fruited.

Domain Day One Serious Sangiovese 2009 $30
Domain Day vineyard, Mount Crawford, Barossa Valley, South Australia
One of Tuscany’s great sangioveses, Brunello di Montelcino, inspired Robin Day to plant the variety at Mount Crawford, a comparatively cool site at 450 metres, on the border of the Barossa and Eden Valleys. Day’s is an earthy, savoury expression of the variety – the savouriness wrestling with its core of ripe, sweet and sour cherry flavour. In the 2009 vintage, the savouriness and earthiness seem even more pronounced than usual, setting the wine apart from tamer beasts like shiraz, cabernet and pint noir.

Ashton Hills Piccadilly Valley Pinot Noir 2012 $30
Piccadilly Valley, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
In a good season, Stephen George makes three pinot noirs – estate and reserve from his own vineyards, and a lighter, fruitier style under the Piccadilly Valley label. In 2012, he sourced the latter 70 per cent from his own vineyards with the remainder coming from a nearby Piccadilly Valley neighbour. In such a good season, however, “lighter and fruitier” takes on a new meaning, as this is far richer and more concentrated than usual ¬¬– though nothing compared to the reserve version reviewed last week. This is way above average pinot, offering really satisfying drinking.

Redbank The Long Paddock Shiraz 2012 $9.50–$13

Redbank won’t let us in on the regional sourcing secrets. But there’s no doubting, even at the price, that it includes pretty good material. Its fragrant, ripe and supple, with medium body and spicy, peppery notes derived from cool climate components of the wine. The winemakers added sangiovese to the blend (six per cent of the total) – injecting savour and grip to the otherwise soft tannins. Redbank is a Victorian based brand belonging to the Hill-Smith family’s Yalumba group.

Copyright  Chris Shanahan 2013
First published 4 September 2013 in the Canberra Times and