Wine review — Moppity Vineyards, Pikes, Greywacke, Mount Majura and T’Gallant

Moppity Vineyards Lock and Key Reserve Shiraz 2012 $22
Moppity vineyard, Hilltops, NSW
Moppity won the most-successful-exhibitor trophy at Canberra regional show, largely on the strength of its Tumbarumba chardonnays and Hilltops shirazes. While isolated show medals mean little, sustained success in different shows invariably points to outstanding quality – a quality confirmed after a few sips of Lock and Key Reserve shiraz. It won silver at the regional show and golds medals in Melbourne, the NSW Small Winemakers show and the National Wine Show of Australia. It’s a delicious wine and a gift at $22. The pepper and spice character of the cool season provides attractive seasoning to the plush, soft, easy-drinking palate. It’s slightly fuller bodied than a typical Canberra shiraz but less full bodied than one from the warmer Barossa.

Moppity Vineyards Lock and Key Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 $22
Moppity vineyard, Hilltops, NSW

In both Canberra and Hilltops, shiraz, in general, fares better than cabernet – by a wider margin in Canberra than in the warmer Hilltops region. However, in 2012 Moppity owner Jason Brown achieved excellent quality with both varieties. Brown says the cabernet benefited from intensive work in the vineyard – keeping grape yields to a low two-and-a-half to five tonnes a hectare and “fastidious” canopy management. Whatever he did worked, as this is a lovely cabernet. It’s vibrantly varietal (ripe berry fruit with the slightest leafy note), balanced by sympathetic oak treatment. It also has fruity, mid-palate flesh – enough to give drink-now appeal – but not so much as to take away the overall tight, fairly tannic cabernet experience. A winner of multiple gold medals and trophies. Like the Lock and Key Reserve shiraz, this is the gift at the price. It was a toss up to decide wine of the week.

Pikes Clare Valley The Merle Riesling 2013 $38–$45
Thickett block, Pike Vineyard, Polish Hill River, Clare Valley, South Australia

Clare Valley veteran Neil Pike produces a number of Clare Valley rieslings, led by the flagship, The Merle. Pike sourced the 2013 vintage from the Thicket block within the family’s vineyard in the cool Clare sub-region, Polish Hill River. Merle’s intense acidity seems to magnify the delicious lime-like varietal flavour, thrilling the palate and giving a pure, fresh lingering dry finish. It makes a good refresher on its own, but it also suits fresh oysters, delicate seafood and salads. Most likely it will age for many years, even decades.

Greywacke Chardonnay 2011 $40–$45
Marlborough, New Zealand

Kevin Judd’s latest chardonnay offers power with elegance in its own special style. Judd uses ripe fruit from old vines in New Zealand’s Marlborough region. The wines undergo spontaneous and prolonged fermentation, from ambient yeast, in oak barrels. Judd stirs the wines occasionally as they mature on yeast lees, and allows all components to complete their secondary malolactic fermentation (converting malic to lactic acid – a process that affects flavour and texture, while reducing total acidity). The ripe fruit, full body, comparatively high acidity, and rich texture add up to a unique and irresistible take on chardonnay.

Mount Majura TSG 2012 $32
Mount Majura vineyard, Mount Majura, Canberra District, ACT
Mount Majura’s blend of tempranillo, shiraz and graciano – a silver medallist in last September’s Canberra regional show – offered a great contrast in a recent tasting, wedged between two burly, warm-climate reds. A couple of tasters saw a resemblance to pinot noir – a reasonable analogy in relation to the wine’s medium body. But there the resemblance ended. The aroma and flavour suggested blueberry, liberally seasoned with spice, pepper and an earthy savouriness. And the palate, though fine and elegant, finished with firm, grippy tannins.

T’Gallant Cape Schanck Pinot Grigio 2013 $18–$22
Cool climate Victoria
T’Gallant, part of Treasury Wine Estates, still retains the services of Kevin MCarthy, one of Australia’s pioneers of this variety, known by both its French (pinot gris) and Italian (pinot grigio). McCarthy’s version heads down the racy, lean Italian style. It draws fruit widely, writes McCarthy, “stretching from Heyward to Yea via the Strathbogies, Mornington Peninsula and the Yarra Valley”. The result is an unusually pure, well-defined pinot gris. It’s teasing, tart and savoury and a refreshingly low 11.5 per cent alcohol.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2014
First published 22 January 2014 in the Canberra Times