Wine review – Coppabella, Fighting Gully Road, Ravensworth, Capital Wines, Lark Hill and Pikes

Coppabella “The Crest” Chardonnay 2012 $20–$30
Coppabella vineyard, Tumbarumba, NSW

Jason and Alecia Brown own the 68-hectare Moppity vineyard in the Hilltops region and the 70-hectare Coppabella vineyard at Tumbarumba. They now match the exceptional quality of their Moppity reds with three beautiful chardonnays from the higher, cooler Coppabella vineyard. Just as he did when launching the reds a few years back, Jason Brown hopes to attract retail support, and drinkers, for the whites through low everyday pricing. Certainly “The Crest” offers jaw-dropping quality for $20–$25 a bottle. This is genuine cool-climate chardonnay, with grapefruit-like varietal flavour and the thrilling acidity that gives the wine elegance, freshness and great length of flavour.

Fighting Gully Road Sangiovese 2012 $28
Aquila Audax vineyard, Beechworth, Victoria

Mount Majura’s Frank van de Loo snuck this Beechworth wine into a recent masked tasting of sangioveses from the Canberra region. The ring-in won the night in my scorebook and received high ratings from most of the vignerons present. It comes from a vineyard planted in 1997 and offers the unique sour cherry aromas and flavours of very good sangiovese. The medium bodied, harmonious palate is cut with fine tannins that give length to the finish.

Ravensworth Le Querce Sangiovese 2013 $25
Murrumbateman and Hall, Canberra District, NSW
This was my top-scoring Canberra wine in a recent masked tasting of 39 sangioveses. Maker Bryan Martin says 2013 is, “the first with a good proportion of [the much favoured] Brunello clones”. The wine comes from three Canberra vineyards, including Martin’s own at Murrumbateman. It offers the medium body and lovely, underlying cherry-like flavour of the variety. There’s great depth to the fruit this year, and it’s seasoned with pleasing herbal and savoury characters. Although the fine tannins give quite a drying tweak to the finish, they’re rounded and smooth and add deliciously to the savouriness of the wine.

Capital Wines The Foreign Minister Sangiovese 2013 $25
Hall and Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW

Early this month Canberra vignerons held a masked tasting of 39 sangioveses – 27 from Canberra, one from Beechworth, Victoria, and eleven from Tuscany, Italy. The Canberra group included vintages back to 2003. The 2010s showed strongly, and the current release 2013s offered a very high average quality, with a couple of rippers – notably Ravensworth and Capital Wines. Both were gold medal contenders in my scoresheet. The Capital Wines sangiovese appealed for its bright, fresh, cherry-like varietal aroma and flavour, medium body and fine, ripe tannins that washed in over the fruit flavours, giving a juicy backbone to a most enjoyable wine.

Lark Hill Sangiovese 2013 $30
Dark Horse vineyard, Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW

Lark Hill sangiovese split the room at the recent tasting of Canberra district sangiovese. Some loved the wine, while others, including me, couldn’t initially get past the slight but distracting pong of hydrogen sulphide – a natural by-product of anaerobic winemaking. The Carpenter family made the wine entirely in stainless steel tanks, foregoing aerobic maturation in oak barrels. The process captured the juicy, fruity richness and savouriness of the grape. A little aeration dispersed the pong, leaving the pure joy of the grape in a medium bodied, buoyant, drink-now red of great charm.

Pikes “Traditionele” Riesling 2014 $17.90–$26
Polish Hill, Watervale and Sevenhill, Clare Valley, South Australia

Very hot weather early this year threatened to bake Clare Valley’s riesling crop. But rain arrived on 14 February. To say it “saved the vintage is an understatement”, writes winemaker Neil Pike. “It gave the vines a much needed boost of moisture and delayed ripening into the cooler months of March and April. What might have been a disaster became instead a triumph, producing “elegant, pure flavours, lowish alcohol levels and excellent natural acids”, writes Pike. His aromatic “Traditionele” riesling appeals for its pure citrus flavour, juicy and rich but delicate palate and zesty, refreshing acidity. The big flavour belies the wine’s modest 11 per cent alcohol content.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2014
First published:

  • 25 November 2014 in
  • 26 November 2014 in the Canberra Times