Grosset Chardonnay 2012 $52–$57
Piccadilly Valley, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
In the early nineties, Clare Valley riesling master, Jeffrey Grosset, looked south to the cooler Adelaide Hills for chardonnay, ultimately establishing vines in its Piccadilly Valley sub-region. The wines have always been good. But Grosset’s 2012 rises above any previous vintage, I believe. Its amazing power and richness of fruit, woven in with barrel-related aromas, flavours and textures, make it one of the most enjoyable and distinctive chardonnays I’ve tasted from this outstanding vintage. Despite the big, rich fruit flavour, this is an elegant, harmonious wine with good cellaring potential.
Seville Estate The Barber Chardonnay 2013 $19–$24
Yarra Valley, Victoria
Dr Peter McMahon established Seville Estate in the early seventies and sold it to Hunter-based Brokenwood in the late nineties. In turn, Brokenwood sold it to Graham and Margaret Van Der Meulen in 2005. The Van Der Meulens offer three chardonnays – The Barber, Estate ($36) and Reserve ($70), the latter dedicated this year to Dr McMahon, who died in October 2013. Though fermented and matured in oak barrels (10 per cent of them new), the wine leads with vibrant melon and stone-fruit varietal flavour. It’s medium bodied, dry, smooth textured and finishes with zippy fresh acidity.
Vinaceous Raconteur Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 $25
Wilyabrup, Margaret River, Western Australia
Nick Stacy and Mike Kerrigan, the guys behind Vinaceous, source fruit from many regions around Australia, including the Adelaide Hills, Margaret River, McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley. Their impressively deep, purple Margaret River red provides a virtual fruit festival, consistent with the colourful circus-inspired label. The deep colour, luscious, varietal fruit flavour and loads of soft tannins make juicy, irresistible current drinking.
Mitolo Jester Vermentino 2013 $19.50–$22
McLaren Vale, South Australia
Frank Mitolo says he grows the vermentino grapes for this wine, “at the southern end of McLaren Vale, about five kilometres east of the coastal town of Port Willunga”. The variety, best known in Sardinia and Liguria, seems to work well in warmer Australian locations. Mitolo’s been at it a few years now and in 2013 the wine seems notably fruitier and fuller flavoured than usual, though still with vibrant tropical and citrus flavours. The finish is savoury and dry.
Topper’s Mountain Gewurztraminer 2013 $35
Tingha, New England, NSW
Stand back when you open the bottle. Gewurztraminer’s penetrating musk and lychee aroma escapes instantly from the bottle before it’s even poured, let alone tasted. The potent perfume attracts and repels at the same time. The equally strong palate reveals the slightly oily, slick texture of the variety and gives a firm, tannic tweak to the dry finish. It’s a wine to marvel at on occasion and everyone should try it. But it’s hard to imagine coming back for a second glass, or drinking it more than once a year. The wine was made by Mark Kirby, high up in the New England ranges.
Wickhams Road Pinot Noir 2013 $16–$17
Hoddles Creek Estate’s second label, Wickams Road, offers good quality Yarra Valley and Gippsland pinot noir and chardonnay at a reasonable price. The Gippsland pinot noir offers medium-bodied, savoury drinking with a good, food-friendly bite of tannins. The fruit flavour’s bright and fresh, with an earthy, funky under current. Wickhams Road Yarra Pinot Noir 2013 (same price) is in a similar mould, though with a greater focus on bright red-berry varietal flavours.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2014
First published 12 March 2014 in the Canberra Times