La Linea Tempranillo 2012 $27
Adelaide Hills, South Australia
If I had to bet the house on one of the so-called “alternative” grape varieties it’d be Spain’s tempranillo. We crush only about 3000 tonnes a year in Australia (equivalent to perhaps 225 thousand dozen bottles) – a mere splash compared to the more familiar varieties we grow. However, despite the small volume, a recent ABS survey unearthed 341 tempranillo producers across the country. A standout among those is Peter Leske and David LeMire’s La Linea. Though consistently fragrant and floral in earlier vintages, the 2012 lifts another notch, especially in its juicy, fleshy, spicy medium-bodied palate – complete with the variety’s wave of tannins drying out the finish.
Hoddles Creek 1er Chardonnay 2012 $40
Hoddles Creek Estate, Yarra Valley, Victoria
Winemaker Franco D’Anna sources grapes for this wine from an east-facing and presumably comparatively cool site on the family vineyards. However, he picks the grapes riper than he does for the estate’s standard label, resulting in a full flavoured still finely texture, elegant style. The wine shows the cool-grown citrusy side of chardonnay, with underlying stone-fruit flavours. It also shows the “struck match” character of fermentation and maturation in oak – a character that overwhelms skinnier wines, but adds seasoning to a wine of this generosity and calibre.
Clairault Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2013 $22
Margaret River, Western Australia
Margaret River’s distinctive white blend tempers sauvignon blanc’s turbo fruitiness with semillon’s backbone and seriousness – a combination greatly enriched by fermenting and maturing a component in oak barrels. The resulting wine remains vivacious and fruity, but not overwhelmingly so, with attractive mid-palate texture and a savoury note. Sealed with a screw cap, the wine should evolve well and remain fresh for four or five years.
Mount Majura Vineyard The Silurian Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2008 $30
Mount Majura vineyard, Canberra District, ACT
Frank van der Loo’s chardonnay-pinot bubbly matured for about five years in bottle. The long contact with spent yeast cells (left over from the secondary fermentation in bottle) added subtly to the wine’s aroma, flavour and texture. However, at almost six years its fresh, delicate, lemon-like chardonnay flavours draw more attention than the yeast-derived characters do. This is a very pleasant aperitif style. It’ll be interesting to see how future vintages evolve, especially in regard to use, or not, of other bubbly-making tricks, such as use of reserve wines in the blend, to build more complexity.
Coriole Sangiovese 2012 $21–$25
Coriole vineyards, McLaren Vale, South Australia
The Lloyd family planted sangiovese at Coriole in 1985, joining Montrose of Mudgee, under Carlo Corino, as an early pioneer of Italian varieties. Corino eventually returned to Italy. But the Lloyds persevered, and recently released their 26th vintage. From the very good 2012 vintage, it’s a little fuller and rounder than usual, though the variety’s savouriness comes through and the fine, firm tannins leave no doubt that it’s sangiovese, and the regional red specialty, shiraz.
Chablis (Bouchot-Ludot) 2011 $15.79
Chablis – Burgundy’s northernmost sub-region, at around latitude 47 degrees – makes unique and delicious, lean, intense chardonnays, reflecting the very cool climate. The best, like those of Raveneau, can be sublime. But more workmanlike wines, like this Costco import, still capture the unique and loveable regional style. Bouchot-Ludot is very easy to love. And because it’s not at all like an Australian chardonnay, it adds variety to our drinking. Costco’s global buying power allows us to drink it at a bargain price.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2014
Firsts published 19 February 2014 in the Canberra Times