Wine review – John Duval, Red Knot, Andrew Thomas, Ulithorne, Mount Majura and Lark Hill

John Duval Wines Entity Shiraz 2012 $40.85–$50
Krondorf, Greenock and Eden Valley, Barossa, South Australia

Former Grange makers John Duval sources fruit for Entity from the Krondorf and Greenock sub-regions of the Barossa Valley and a portion from the elevated, cooler Eden Valley to the east. The combination yields a vibrant shiraz in the generous, sweet-fruited Barossa style, but with an elegant structure and drink-now appeal. The supple, juicy fruit flavours incorporate the spice, savouriness and fine structural tannins of high quality fine-grained French oak. Entity provides extraordinarily satisfying drinking now. But the sheer freshness of the fruit and solid underlying tannin structure suggest a long and lovely evolution with bottle age.

Red Knot by Shingleback Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 $11.39–$15
McLaren Vale, South Australia
Red Knot Cabernet Sauvignon, from the Davey family’s Shingleback vineyard, McLaren Vale, evokes words like ripe, juicy, fruity, varietal and soft – a bright, fresh, flavoursome, lovable, red made to enjoy now. But it’s a bit more than that, too – a great example of the sophistication of modern Australian winemaking. Why? Despite the low price it’s not propped up by over-extraction, over oaking or over-ripeness as we used to see. It’s a graceful, lovely, modestly priced wine, based on fruit quality not winemaking tricks.

Andrew Thomas Six Degrees Semillon 2014 $23
Hunter Valley, New South Wales
Hunter Valley semillon’s a logical candidate for low-alcohol winemaking. The dry versions deliver ripe flavours but often register at around 10–11 per cent alcohol, considerably below the 12–14 per cent we normally see in Australian whites. Arresting the fermentation before the yeasts gobble up all the grape sugar produces wines of even lower alcohol content. In Six Degrees, Andrew Thomas achieves just 8.7 per cent alcohol while leaving a fairly high level of unfermented grape sugar. However, the high acidity of the early-picked grapes offsets the sweetness by injecting young semillon’s typical lemony tartness. It’s a delicious combination.

Ulithorne Corsus Vermentinu 2013 $34
Corsica, France

McLaren Vale based Ulithorne makes and imports this wine from the French Island of Corsica. Vermentinu, known in Australia as vermentino, has grown in the vicinity, notably in Sardinia and Liguria, for many centuries. Winemaker Rose Kentish’s version presents a more herbal, spicy and savoury version of the variety than Australian efforts to date. It offers a fine but chewy texture, exotic herbal flavours and bone-dry, refreshing finish.

Mount Majura Riesling 2014 $27
Mount Majura vineyard, Canberra District, ACT

Mount Majura 2014 riesling follows broadly in the style of other Canberra 2014s tasted to date. The first impression of aromatic and delicious, full-throttle varietal flavour changes a little as the wine’s high acidity becomes apparent. The acidity makes the palate refreshing and works very well with food. But unaccompanied by food, the wine’s acidity tends to be a little austere, even though winemaker Frank van de Loo left a little residual grape sugar behind to temper the acidity. A few more months in bottle should amplify the fruit flavour, further offsetting the acidity.

Lark Hill Biodynamic Shiraz Viognier 2013 $30
Lark Hill Dark Horse vineyard, Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW

In mid September, the Canberra District Vignerons Association held a tasting of Canberra shirazes, split into four groupings: 2013 vintage, 2009 vintage, 2005 vintage, and a mixed class from 2000, 1998, 1996, 1994 1992 and 1990. With only a few exceptions, 21 wines from 2013 confirmed the exceptional quality of this vintage. Many wines, including Lark Hill, showed the superior fruit quality and ripe, velvety tannins of the benign season. Lark Hill combines bright red-berry fruit with typical Canberra spice and a touch of pepper. A small portion of viognier in the blend adds to the richness and texture of the palate. The wine is young and unevolved at present but we can expect it to blossom with a little bottle age.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2014
First published:
30 September 2014 at
1 October 2014 in the Canberra Times