Wine review – Gallagher, Mount Pleasant, Leo Buring, Schmolzer and Brown, Hardys

Gallagher Shiraz 2013 $30
Gallagher vineyard, Murrumbateman, Canberra District NSW

Canberra’s perfect vintage conditions in 2013 produced a great number of really outstanding shirazes across the district, including Gallagher – a gold medallist at the 2014 regional wine show. The best show greater richness and ripeness of fruit and tannin than normal, while retaining their fine-boned, spicy, medium bodied regional style. Gallagher 2013 excites from the first sniff of juicy, red berries, overlaid with the black pepper of cool-grown shiraz. The bright, intensely fruity palate reveals more of the spicy side of shiraz, cut through with fine, ripe, soft tannins.

Gallagher Riesling 2014 $22
Barton Estate vineyard, Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW

Like other Canberra 2014 vintage rieslings, Greg Gallagher’s new release delivers highly perfumed, floral aromas, with generous, juicy, citrus-like varietal flavours. However, there’s a gentle delicacy to the palate and a racy acidity that makes it impressively vibrant and fresh. A modest alcohol content of 11.4 per cent adds to its summer drinking appeal. Based on many earlier vintages, you can enjoy this wine for its youthful fruitiness now, or follow its flavour evolution over the next four or five years – perhaps longer in a cool, dark cellar.

Mount Pleasant Mount Henry Shiraz Pinot Noir 2013 $43.50
Rosehill and Mount Pleasant vineyards, Lower Hunter Valley, NSW

The McWilliam family, owners of Mount Pleasant, first produced this retro-labelled shiraz–pinot noir blend in 2011. They followed up with a second vintage in 2013. The wine salutes winemaker Maurice O’Shea (1897–1956) from whom the McWilliams purchased Mount Pleasant in two trenches, in 1932 and 1941. O’Shea named Mount Pleasant after buying existing vines there in 1921. He subsequently planted pinot noir at the winery site in 1922 and shiraz at the nearby Rosehill vineyard in 1946. These historic vineyards provide the fruit for this wonderfully elegant red, made by Jim Chatto. The bright, limpid colour and delicate, vibrant, fruity–spicy aroma lead to a gentle, sweet and complex palate, reflecting the aroma. This truly is history in a bottle – perhaps reflective of the superb, long-lived reds O’Shea made in the 1940s and 1950s. (Available at cellar door and

Leo Buring Leopold DW R20 Riesling 2014 $40
White Hills vineyard, Tamar Valley, Tasmania

Leo Buring’s reputation for fine, long-lived Eden Valley and Clare rieslings emerged in the 1960s and 1970s under the ownership of Lindemans and winemaking skills of John Vickery. Today the Leo Buring brand belongs to Treasury Wine Estates, with winemaking in the hands of Peter Munro. Munro continues sourcing riesling from the Eden and Clare Valleys (both located on South Australia’s Mount Lofty Ranges). But the exciting new frontier for the variety is Tasmania. Munro’s 2014 Leopold shows extraordinary flavour intensity and weight for a young riesling – with finesse, despite the flavour intensity and rich texture. The wine should age well for many years in a good cellar.

Schmolzer and Brown Pret-a-Rosé 2014 $26
Beechworth, Victoria

Rosé styles range from sweet and sickly to dry and svelte; and their colour spectrum moves through light and vibrant pink, to light red, to mauve and even onion-skin brown. They can be made from any red variety on earth; though paler skinned varieties like grenache, pinot noir and sangiovese seem to work best. Tessa Brown and Jeremy Schmolzer make theirs from pinot noir and sangiovese, wild fermented (and matured briefly) in old oak barrels. The resulting pale pink wine offers a mouth-caressing, smooth texture with an undercurrent of bright fruit pushing through its savoury flavours. A gentle bite of tannin completes the finish of a very good rosé.

Hardys Sir James Pinot Noir Chardonna9 Cuvee Brut $9.95–$16.65
Riverland, Limestone Coast, Sunraysia and Adelaide Hills, SA and Victoria

Failing Dom Perignon for $10, where do we go for a sparkling quaffer that sits in the sweet spot, between cheap and nasty and good but expensive? It’s most rewarding, I believe, to head for the big companies making top-end wines as well as cheaper, large-volume products. The quality trickle-down effect – combined with strong competition among retailers for popular brands – keeps quality high and prices low. In this instance Hardy’s Sir James delivers the flavour and structure of a bubbly made from the right varieties by someone who knows what they’re doing. With a recommended retail price of $16.65, currently discounted to $9.95, it’s an excellent buy.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2014
First published:

  • 16 December 2014 in
  • 17 December 2014 in the Canberra Times