Wine review — Windy Peak, Capital Wines, Tower Estate, Robert Stein and Clover Hill

Windy Peak Shiraz 2012 – $11.40–$14
Heathcote, Victoria
Sometimes less is more. And that’s what makes modestly priced Windy Peak wine of the week. It isn’t over-oaked. It isn’t over extracted. It isn’t tricked up in any way as some cheaper wines can be. It simply delivers what it says on the label – shiraz from Heathcote, Victoria. We expect and get something from that regional-varietal combination: a riche but medium-bodied dry red with bright, spicy, shiraz flavour and a soft but savoury bite of tannin – a satisfying wine to enjoy now. Clever winemaking gives it an appealing combination of bright fruitiness and mellow red wineyness: the winemakers mature part of the blend in older oak casks (giving mellow, red wine character) and the balance in tank to retain fruitiness.

Capital Wines Ministry Series The Whip Riesling 2012 $19
Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW
The attractive Whip riesling comes from four different Murrumbateman vineyards, writes Capital’s Jennie Mooney. Approaching its first birthday, the wine’s delicate lime-like flavours are beginning to rise above the racy acidity – suggesting even better drinking ahead as it evolves over the next two or three years.

Capital Wines Ministry Series The Ambassador Tempranillo 2011 $27
Kyeema Vineyard, Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW
The Ambassador won gold at last year’s regional wine show, demonstrating how even the rottenest vintages, like 2011, can produce decent wines – largely through amazing amounts of work in the vineyard. It’s a medium bodied red, far removed in style from Spanish tempranillo. The sweet core of ripe berry flavours comes with a dash of spice and the savoury bite of the variety’s distinctive tannins. This vintage will probable be at its best over the next two or three years.

Tower Estate Pinot Noir 2011 $30
Cradoc and Coal River Valley, Tasmania
In Not my memoirs (Union Publishing, Sydney, 2012) the late Len Evans recounts the story of the Hunter Valley’s Tower Estate, his final creation and scene of one of the greatest wakes in history. Evans mentions the quest for Tasmanian pinot noir, and here we see a blend from the Panorama vineyard, near Cradoc, and the Meadowbank vineyard in the Coal River valley. It’s a pleasing, moreish wine, ticking most of the pinot boxes. I think Len would’ve seen it as a promising start.

Robert Stein Riesling 2012 $40
Stein Vineyard, Mudgee, NSW
What does Mudgee stand for as a winemaking region? I’ve visited there, judged there, and tasted wines from there since the late seventies, all without spotting a regional hero. Chardonnay stood out more than any other. Riesling, however, didn’t register until Robert Stein’s caught our attention a few years back. Winemaker Jacob Stein, sources riesling from the family’s mature vines, at an altitude of 600 metres – considerably higher up than most Mudgee vineyards. Almost certainly the cooler site gives Stein riesling its racy edge and intense, fine, lime-like varietal flavour. It’s beautifully made and a pleasure to drink, from first drop to last. Should age well for many years.

Clover Hill Brut Rose Cuvee Exceptionnnelle 2008 $55
Pipers River, Tasmania
Over Christmas we drank quite of lot of French non-vintage Champagne in this price range and generally rated them well below comparably priced Tasmanian bubblies from the House of Arras, Pirie and Clover Hill. The French, however, pulled away once we move into the more expensive vintage Champagnes. Clover Hill Rose, a blend of pinot noir and pinot meunier, appealed for its delicate, supple fruitiness and gentle texture, derived from prolonged ageing on yeast lees.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2013
First published 6 February 2013 in The Canberra Times