Wine review – Mount Majura, Tahbilk, Four Winds, Ravensworth and Domenica

Mount Majura Graciano 2013 $27
Mt Majura vineyard, Canberra District, ACT

“Graciano has a huge number of synonyms in Spain and all around the Mediterranean, suggesting it is an old and widespread variety”, write Jancis Robinson and Jose Vouillamoz. They also note it, “is valued for its acidity and perfume”. Mount Majura’s Frank van de Loo refers to it as “a minor variety in Rioja [Spain], considered to be very high quality and used in blends for its good acidity”. Thankfully, van de Loo spares a small amount from the blending vat as it unquestionably makes a fine, distinctive wine in its own right: crimson coloured, impressively perfumed and with a rich, supple, slightly peppery palate. The excellent 2013 vintage won a gold medal at this year’s Winewise Small Vignerons Awards.

Tahbilk Roussanne Marsanne Viognier 2013 $25
Tahbilk vineyard, Nagambie Lakes, Victoria

In recent years Tahbilk planted the Rhone Valley white varieties, roussanne and viognier, alongside their extensive marsanne holdings. The latter had been cultivated on the property continuously since 1927 to become a notable Tahbilk specialty. A recently released blend of the three varieties could appeal widely. It’s based on the comparatively understated roussanne (40 per cent of the blend) with the more assertive marsanne (34 per cent) and powerful viognier (26 per cent) contributing to, but not overwhelming the blend. The result is a richly textured, fairly full-bodied dry white with distinct notes of citrus and honey.

Four Winds Shiraz 2013 $25
Four Winds vineyard, Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW

Graeme and Suzanne Lunney planted their 13-hectare vineyard during the Hardy period in the late nineties. Today it’s a broader family business involving two daughters and their husbands: Sarah and John Collingwood and Jaime and Bill Crowe. Four Winds fruit is highly valued by other growers in the district. And in the Four Winds winery, Bill and Jaime Crowe make very good wine, including this very tasting shiraz from the excellent 2013 vintage. It’s a highly aromatic red, built on cherry-like varietal flavours, seasoned with spice and a touch of pepper. The palate is medium bodied and soft, for current drinking.

Ravensworth Pinot Gris 2014 $25
Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW

Many a person’s been changed by a trip to Byron Bay. For Canberra vigneron Bryan Martin it meant a newfound running career and a 700-litre, egg-shaped ceramic fermentation vessel. Ever the experimenter, Martin sourced pinot gris grapes from neighbouring Long Rail Gully vineyard and let the ferment rip in the new calcium-rich egg. The result: a rich, smooth-textured white with the pear-like flavour of the variety and a fresh, citrusy tang to the finish.

Ravensworth Riesling 2014$ 25
Canberra District, NSW

Ravensworth tastes so very young now, its youth underscored by a high acidity that accentuates the lemon-and-lime varietal flavour. A very small amount of residual grape sugar adds a little flesh to what might otherwise have been an austere palate. Winemaker Bryan Martin attributes the wine’s texture partially to barrel fermentation of a small component. Even at this early stage of the wine’s development, I’m scoring it at silver-medal level, but suspect we’ll see it winning gold medals at wine shows in the months ahead as the fruit flavours build.

Domenica Shiraz 2012 $40–$44
Domenica vineyards, Beechworth, Victoria

Peter Graham’s Domenica provides yet another expression of Australia’s great red specialty. Medium body and fine tannins can be assumed in well-made shiraz from Beechworth’s comparatively cool climate. But Domenica separates itself from other cool-grown shiraz by its secondary flavours – reminiscent of leather, earth and bacon rind. These flavours season the underlying fruity and spicy varietal flavours, adding real interest to an harmonious, soft and thoroughly enjoyable wine.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2014
First published 23 September 2014 in and 24 September 2014 in the Canberra Times