Wine review — Yering Station, Kate Hill, Finca Rosal, Galli Estate and Howard Park

Yering Station Village Pinot Noir 2011 $21–$25
Yarra Valley, Victoria
The Rathbone family produces several pinots from its Yarra Valley vineyards. And as we see often in the wine industry, a company achieving superior quality in its top-shelf wines generally leads the pack in lower priced wine as well. Yering Station’s entry-level Village pinot delivers the thrill of the variety at a fair price. The wine’s pale colour belies its depth of mouth-watering “pinosity” – a combination of detailed varietal flavour, fine supporting tannins and silky texture.

Kate Hill Cabernet Merlot 2010 $24–$30
Coal River and Tamar Valleys, Tasmania
At a recent tasting, Kate Hill’s wine sat beside a comparable blend from Bordeaux sub-region, Puisseguin-Saint Emillion. I’d hoped for contrast but also some similarities. Contrast we got; similarities zero. Kate Hill’s vivacious cabernet merlot blend thrilled with its musky perfume and lively palate – based on ripe berry flavours, seasoned with the pleasing leafiness these varieties deliver in cool climates. Fine, soft tannins added to the wine’s drink now charm. It’s an uncomplicated, delicious expression of the cool climate and the two varieties. The French wine, on the other hand, proved a poor representative from a region capable of making charming, elegant reds.

Finca Rosal Old Vines Monastrell 2010 $20
Yecla, Murcia, Spain
Thanks to the strong Australian dollar we can enjoy this bright, fresh Spanish wine at a realistic price. It’s made from monastrell, a Spanish red variety known in Australia since the 1830s as mataro and more recently by its French name, mourvedre. The wine is made in the clean, bright, modern style. It’s limpid and vibrantly coloured, featuring sweet, blueberry-like fruit flavours, with earthy and spicy notes, layered with soft, drying tannins.

Yering Station Village Chardonnay 2011 $21–$25
Yarra Valley, Victoria
The three beautiful chardonnays reviewed today present shades of the contemporary Australian oak-fermented style. In body, Yering Station sits between the fuller Howard Park wine and the more delicate Galli Estate version. Yering Station (80 per cent barrel fermented) leads with vibrant, citrus and nectarine-like varietal flavour. A subtle funky note and smooth texture (from partial wild-yeast fermentation and maturation in yeast lees) season the fruit with detracting from its vitality.

Galli Estate Camelback Chardonnay 2012 $17–$20
Sunbury, Victoria
Galli Estate, the lightest and leanest of the three chardonnays reviewed today, captures the racy, grapefruit-like, just-ripe flavour of cool-grown chardonnay. Although the entire blend was fermented in oak barrels, and 80 per cent of it kept there for maturation on yeast lees, the oak is barely, if at all, detectable. Its use will have added to the texture of the wine, but for the drinker this is all about fine fruit flavour, intensified by brisk acidity.

Howard Park Miamup Chardonnay 2011 $23–$27
Southern Margaret River, Western Australia
Howard Park Miamup chardonnay offers a bolder expression of chardonnay than we see in the two expressions reviewed today. The fuller, rounder stone-fruit-like flavour comes bundled with assertive funky notes (injected by the winemaking techniques) and oak flavours. It’s not a return to the fat, oak chardonnays of the past but a bright, fresh, modern approach that’s not afraid to let the winemaking inputs stand equally with the fruit. If you were enjoying a chardonnay dinner, you might begin with Galli Estate and oysters, move on to garfish and Yering Station – and finish on lobster and Howard Park.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2013
First published 10 April in The Canberra Times and