Brokenwood Quail Shiraz 2012 $100
McLaren Vale and Hunter Valley, South Australia and NSW
On the back label, winemaker Iain Riggs notes the inspiration of Quail shiraz being the Thomas Hardy “Burgundies” of the 1940s and 1950s. Riggs wasn’t of drinking age back then, but you can be sure he savoured their magnificence decades after vintage. Like those elegant, long-lived old Thomas Hardy wines, Quail combines shiraz from McLaren Vale and the Hunter Valley. Indeed it brings together the best barrels from Brokenwood’s star vineyards: Graveyard in the Hunter and Wade Block 2 in McLaren Vale. The style is elegant, restrained and savoury, with a fine, firm backbone of tannin – a sophisticated, understated wine of great dimension.
Jamiesons Run Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 $9.40–$15
Limestone Coast, South Australia
Jamiesons Run began as a Coonawarra brand in the 1980s, but now offers wine from Treasury Wine Estates’ vast vineyard holdings on South Australia’s Limestone Coast. The exact sourcing isn’t revealed for this wine, but prime suspects would include Padthaway, Wrattonbully and Coonawarra. It’s a drink-now style, with the emphasis on blackcurrant and leafy varietal flavour. It’s widely distributed and as a brand the big retailers latch onto, the price varied from $9.40 to $15 at the time of this review. It offers good value at $9.40, but you’ll find better wines at $15.
Tahbilk Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2013 $25–$28
Tahbilk vineyards, Nagambie Lakes, Victoria
In recent years, Alister Purbrick established grenache and mourvedre vines on his family’s magnificent property, Tahbilk. These two varieties now join Tahbilk’s long-established shiraz in the classic three-variety Rhone Valley blend – grenache-shiraz-mourvedre. Grenache leads with its musky, fruity fragrance. But shiraz and mourvedre temper the grenache fruitiness with spice and refined, savoury tannins on a medium bodied, smooth, understated palate. This is very much in the traditional Tahbilk mould, albeit with the new (for them) flavours of grenache and shiraz.
Four Winds Vineyard Riesling 2014 $22
Four Winds vineyard, Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW
Whether or not Canberra’s 2014 rieslings live up to the 2012s and 2013s remains to be seen. But they are very good indeed. Several, including Four Winds, would be extremely unlucky not to win gold medals at coming wine shows. The wine is impressively aromatic and purely varietal. The intensity of its flavour belies the mere 11.2 per cent alcohol. However, there’s a sting in the tail: while high acidity accentuates the flavour it also lends some austerity to the palate. This is quite in character for Canberra riesling and is easily resolved by giving the wine another 6–12 months in bottle.
Kangarilla Road Montepulciano 2012 $25
McLaren Vale, South Australia
Italy’s montepulciano grape makes strong, savoury, satisfying reds, notably in Abruzzi – a beautiful region between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic sea. The variety delivers its savoury character in McLaren Vale, too, prompting winemaker Kevin O’Brien to write of Italian red varieties in general, “the unique structural fruit tannins and sweet fruit compounds react perfectly with the palate to produce new flavour complexes to savour”. O’Brien’s purple-rimmed montepulciano captures exactly that aspect of montepulciano – the sweet fruit flavour, cut through with savoury flavours and rustic tannins.
Montevecchio Bianco 2012 $20–$23
Chalmers vineyard, Heathcote, Victoria
Fruit for Montevecchio Bianco comes from the Chalmers family’s 20-hectare vineyard on the eastern slopes of the Mount Camel Range, Heathcote, Victoria. The vineyard hosts more than 10 Italian grape varieties. For the family’s white blend, winemaker Sandro Mosele (of Kooyong Estate) co-fermented vermentino, fiano and a small amount of moscato giallo. The result is a bright, fresh wine with aromas and flavours reminiscent of citrus and melon rind. The palate is thoroughly Italian in style with its lean, acidic thrust and savouriness.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2014
First published 17 September 2014 in the Canberra Times and goodfood.com.au