Wine review — Toolangi, Turkey Flat, Shaw and Smith, Paddy Borthwick and Blackjack

Toolangi Estate Pinot Noir 2010 $40
Toolangi Vineyard, Dixon’s Creek, Yarra Valley, Victoria
Garry and Julie Hounsell bought and planted their Dixon Creek vineyard in 1995 but outsource their winemaking – in this instance to one of Australia’s cutting-edge pinot makers, David Bicknell of Oakridge Wines. In short, it’s a classy double act – the beautiful fruit captured in great detail by Bicknell. The wine’s limpid, highly perfumed and over several days on the tasting bench became increasingly lovely to drink. The intense flavour and fine, silky texture make it a pinot to savour, drop by drop. It should age well for another five or six years.

Turkey Flat Butcher’s Block Marsanne Roussanne Viognier 2012 $19.95
Turkey Flat vineyard, Barossa Valley, South Australia
This is exactly the sort of white Barossa makers ought to specialise in. Made from three varieties well suited to warm, dry regions, Butcher’s Block offers texture and savouriness rather than the aromatics and fruitiness cooler regions do better. Christie Schulz polished the style over the years, treating each of the components separately, including skin contact for the viognier, early picking for the marsanne and later picking and whole bunch pressing for the roussanne – with 50 per cent of the blend matured in oak. It’s a full-bodied, richly texture dry white with subtle, underlying nectarine and apricot-like flavours.

Shaw and Smith M3 Chardonnay 2012 $42–$45
Predominantly M3 vineyard, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Shaw and Smith settled into a style of chardonnay making some time back – meaning the wines we taste each year reflect seasonal variations rather than changes in winemaking methods. The new release expresses the upfront fruit flavour of the excellent 2012 vintage. I’ve seen this in many rieslings, too – rich, juicy, fruit flavours coupled with a very fine structure and clean, fresh acidity. In M3 chardonnay, these characteristics mingle, as well, with flavour and textural inputs derived from wild yeast fermentation, barrel maturation and partial malolactic fermentation. It’s an impressive wine with potential to evolve in bottle for a few years.

Paddy Borthwick Pinot Noir 2010 $42–$50
Borthwick family vineyard, Wairarapa, New Zealand
In 1996, winemaker Paddy Borthwick established 27 hectares of vines on his family’s farm, located in the Wairarapa region, a little to the northeast of Wellington. His pale coloured pinot noir impresses for its purity of plummy varietal character, smooth, fine, texture and complex savoury notes. It’s a subtle and lovely wine that grows in interest as you work your way through the bottle – as we did over well-matched duck dish at the Dumpling House, Dickson.

Paddy Borthwick Chardonnay 2011 $29–$38
Borthwick family vineyard, Wairarapa, New Zealand
Paddy Borthwick’s chardonnay rests on nectarine and citrus-like varietal character, layered subtly with the flavours and textures derived from barrel fermentation and maturation. These include nutty flavours and a light touch of caramel (from malolactic fermentation). An assertive line of acid pulls all the flavours together, lengthening the dry finish and giving the wine an appealing elegance.

Blackjack Major’s Line Shiraz 2010 $25
Norris Vineyard, Faraday, Bendigo, Victoria
Named for the route Major Thomas Mitchell took through Victoria in 1836, Major’s Line reveals the savouriness and medium body of Bendigo shiraz in a good vintage. The sweet, plummy, spicy fruit flavour sits well with the savoury notes that seem to come from both the American oak and the fruit itself. The sweet fruit and soft, fine tannins means easy drinking now, though the wine has the flavour concentration and structure to cellar for four or five years.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2013
First published 17 April 2013 in The Canberra Times and