Wine review — Rymill, Angove, Tyrrell, Pooley, Bilgavia and De Bortoli

Rymill The Surveyor Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 $80
Rymill vineyard, northern Coonawarra, South Australia
Coonawarra vigneron John Rymill launched his new flagship, The Surveyor, late last year. He dedicated it to his grandfather, John Riddoch Rymill, leader of a surveying expedition to the Antarctica peninsula from 1934 to 1937. Winemaker Sandrine Gimon says, “We picked the grapes from our established vines, averaging 35 years in age… and the wine matured in new and one year old French oak barriques for 18 months. We then selected the finest five barrels to create 1,400 bottles.” Surveyor justifies the effort as it delivers the unique power and elegance seen in the best Coonawarra cabernets. It’s delightfully aromatic and already shows some complexity, as it combines ripe berries with a dusting of leafiness and beautiful but unobtrusive oak. These are all reflected on the elegant, deeply layered palate, which should evolve for decades in a good cellar. I question only the heavy bottle (just under 2 kg, versus 1.3–1.4 kg for most bottles) and the use of a cork and heavy-duty plastic seal. The latter just seem like annoying, out-dated barriers between wine and drinker. Give me a screw cap, please. (Available at

Angove Long Row Riesling 2013 $8–$11
Nanya Vineyard, Riverland, South Australia
For everyday quaffing, Long Row offers true citrus-like riesling varietal aromas and flavours in a round, soft, vibrant and dry style. It comes from Angove’s Nanya vineyard on the hot stretches of the Murray – not ideal conditions for riesling. It’s therefore all the more impressive that Angoves produced such good flavours – probably the result of such long experience in the region. The vines are “heritage” clone, planted by Tom Angove in the early 1970s.

Tyrrell’s Lost Block Chardonnay 2012 $15–$18
Hunter Valley, NSW
Tyrrell’s has its white-wine making peers in the Hunter, but no one makes better wines. Their chardonnay quality trickles down through the range, from the flagship Vat 47, to the bargain-priced Lost Block. At a modest 12.5 per cent alcohol, the wine delivers chardonnay’s stone-fruit and melon varietal flavours on a fine, fresh palate, lifted in texture and flavour by maturation on spent yeast cells.

Pooley Tasmania Pinot Noir 2012 $35
Principally Coal River Valley, Tasmania
The Pooley family planted vines in Tasmania’s Coal River Valley, near Richmond, in 1985. The second and third generations now run the vineyards and make the wines, including this alluring pinot noir. The wine shows a ripe and fruity face of the variety with a balancing undercurrent of savouriness and persistent soft tannins – a lovely match to Debbie Skelton’s lunch a few weeks back. The website ( says it’s available from Plonk, Fyshwick Markets.

Bilgavia Estate Semillon 2013 $26
Broke Fordwich, Hunter Valley, NSW
Broke Fordwich is a sub-region of the lower Hunter Valley, one valley over from the original heartland around Pokolbin. In general, Broke semillons seem a little rounder and softer than the classic, austere, long-lived versions from Pokolbin – though they remain broadly similar in style in other characteristics. Picked early, they offer fairly low-alcohol (this one’s 11 per cent), lightness and refreshingly lemon-like, vibrant flavours. We enjoyed our bottle with seafood among the gums and cicadas of the south coast.

De Bortoli Villages Pinot Noir 2012 $16–$22
Dixons Creek, Tarrawarra and Woori Yallock, Yarra Valley, Victoria
You’ve been on a long kayak paddle, it’s hot and time for lunch under the lakeside trees – what do you drink? De Bortoli’s light, fruity pinot found its mark by lovely Lake Conjola, lightly chilled (about 15–18 degrees) and served for sobriety’s sake after a long suck on the water bottle. It appealed for its pure varietal aroma, fresh and plump (but not heavy) palate, and smooth, soft texture. It’s real pinot at a realistic price.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2014
First published 12 February 2014 in the Canberra Times