Wine review – Mount Majura, Heartland, Mandala, Stoneleigh and Cherubino

Mount Majura TSG Tempranillo Shiraz Graciano 2013 $32
Mount Majura Vineyard, Canberra District, ACT
If you want to see a Canberra winemaker smile, just say, “2013”. After a run of tough vintages, including the particularly shitty 2011, along came the perfect season, from budburst in spring 2012 until harvest in autumn 2013. Conversely, if you want to see a Canberra wine drinker smile, share a glass of a 2013 red – like Frank van der Loo’s 2013 Touriga Shiraz Graciano. Van de Loo describes 2013 as, “simply an outstanding vintage” producing reds of “tremendous colour and fruit weight”. Mount Majura’s signature TSG pleases spectacularly with its heady, fruity aroma and punches of spice and black pepper. The fleshy, medium bodied palate simply oozes fruit flavour and spice, backed by fine, velvety tannin.

Heartland Shiraz 2012 $18–$20
Langhorne Creek (86 per cent) and Limestone Coast, South Australia
Grant Tilbrook, Scott Collett and Ben Glaetzer are the driving force behind Heartland Wines – a brand and winemaking operation now using fruit from the Langhorne Creek region, sometimes bolstered, as this is with material from the nearby Limestone Coast. “Ben [Glaetzer] had grown up immersed in the potential of Langhorne Creek through the work of his uncle John Glaetzer”, says the website. John Glaetzer made many of the early Wolf Blass reds using from fruit from Langhorne Creek, and later built his own brand on the region. Ben Glaetzer’s Heartland Shiraz 2012 is rich and soft and somewhat lighter in body, say, than shiraz from the warmer Barossa Valley.

Mandala Chardonnay 2012 $25–$28
Mandala Vineyard, Dixons Creek, Yarra Valley, Victoria
For a reasonable price Mandala delivers the intense flavours of cool-grown chardonnay – in this instance from mature vines located at Dixons Creek in the Yarra Valley. The generous, melon-like varietal flavour comes with the pleasant, well-managed winemaker add-ons derived from fermentation and maturation in oak barrels. A couple of years’ bottle age certainly adds to the wine’s fullness, which contrasts with many of the leaner chardonnay styles now coming to market.

Stoneleigh Rapaura Series Pinot Noir 2012 $25–$29
Northern Wairau Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand
The Rapaura Series is a step up in flavour intensity over Stoneleigh’s standard pinot noir, reviewed a few weeks back. Both come from the warmer northern side of the Marlborough’s Wairau Valley. But Rapaura series comes from a favoured vineyard site, albeit in a cooler than average vintage. The wine delivers attractive plummy varietal flavour on a medium bodied, tightly structured palate. The smooth tannins give quite a grip, as they should in good pinot noir.

Cofield Durif 2012 $24
Rutherglen, Victoria
Durif, Rutherglen’s signature red variety, is an accidental cross of shiraz and peloursin, first identified by Francois Durif at Montpellier, France, in 1880 and brought to Australia by Francois de Castella in 1908. It thrived in Rutherglen’s hot climate and remains the region’s signature red variety, tending to a porty ripeness and burly tannic structure. Styles vary from maker to maker, however, with some fine-tuning viticulture and winemaking in search of a more approachable style. Damien Cofield presents a bright, fresh, fruity face of Durif, albeit with variety’s big, firm tannins.

Cherubino Laissez Faire Fiano 2013 $16–$29
Frankland River, Western Australia
Several Australian winemakers now produced dry whites from southern Italy’s fiano variety. Coriole from McLaren Vale is a favourite, but Larry Cherubino’s from the cooler Frankland River, Western Australia impresses, too. A mixed group lunching at Flavours of India, Civic, warmed up on Cherubino’s 2013 and loved it. The light body, bone-dry finish and pleasantly tart flavour – reminiscent of limoncello without the sugar – seemed just right as a pre-lunch tipple.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2014
First published 9 July 2014 in the Canberra Times