Wine review – Nick O’Leary, Mr Riggs, John Duval and Bremerton

Nick O’Leary Shiraz 2013 $28
Fischer vineyard, Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW

Canberra’s benign 2012–13 growing season produced, in abundance, grape quality not seen in the much cooler, wetter 2011 and 2012 vintages. Our exciting 2013 reds include Nick O’Leary’s shiraz – a jaw dropper that kept judges gaping as they piled gongs on it at the 2014 Royal Brisbane Wine Show. They gave it a gold medal, then three trophies: best one-year-old red of the show (Stoddart trophy), best shiraz of the show and best red of the show. This is a very significant achievement for Canberra shiraz, not just for O’Leary. It provides yet more recognition, in a hotly contested national event, of our region’s distinctive style. O’Leary’s highly perfumed, medium-bodied wine shows the vibrant red-berry-and-spice character of cool-grown shiraz – on a luscious, silky palate, cut with very fine tannins. This is a lot of wine at a modest price.

Mr Riggs Outpost Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 $20–$22
Penley and Weatherall vineyards, Coonawarra, South Australia

Winemaker Ben Riggs sourced fruit for Outpost cabernet from Kym Tolley (Penley Estate) and Michael Weatherall in Coonawarra. 2012 was an excellent season down there, though based on a recent visit, likely to be surpassed by 2013. Whatever the merits of the coming 2013, though, Riggs’s 2012 delivers silver-medal quality at a keen price. It captures Coonawarra’s pure, blackcurrant-like varietal flavour and coats it with strong but gentle tannins. The combination delivers Coonawarra’s strength with elegance.

John Duval Wines Plexus Marsanne Roussanne Viognier 2013 $25–$30
Barossa Valley, South Australia

John Duval’s blend of three Rhone Valley white varieties offers a distinctive and mouth-watering alternative to popular single-variety whites like chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and riesling. Chardonnay lovers in particular should love the full body and delicacy of the blend – and note the subtly different fruit flavours and very rich but soft texture. Marsanne (55 per cent) and roussanne (32 per cent) dominate the blend, while the much more assertive viognier makes up the balance.

Bremerton Tamblyn Cabernet Shiraz Malbec Merlot 2012 $16.70–$18
Langhorne Creek, South Australia

Produced by sisters Rebecca and Lucy Willson, Tamblyn brings together four much-loved red varieties, all from Langhorne Creek. Taste Tamblyn, and understand how the region earned the moniker, Australia’s middle palate. Long the source of anonymous multi-regional blend, the area makes wines of vibrant varietal character and rich, mouth filling flavours. Tambyln presents the backbone of cabernet, dark brooding character of malbec, generosity of shiraz and chocolaty richness of merlot – a mouthful of flavour at a fair price.

John Duval Plexus Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre 2012 $31.35–$40
Tanunda, Light Pass and Ebenezer, Barossa Valley, South Australia

Where the cooler summer of 2012 retarded ripening in the cool Canberra district, it produced some beautiful reds in warmer regions like the Barossa – albeit in a generally refined style than usual. In John Duval’s blend, vibrant red-berry characters underpin an otherwise savoury red of great complexity. Earthy shiraz provides a generous base for a blend that’s seasoned by fruity, perfumed grenache fruitiness and gripped by mourvedre’s persistent tannins. It’s an harmonious, understated that grew in interest as we tasted it over a period of four days.

Nick O’Leary Riesling 2014 $25
Lake George and Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW

Nick O’Leary’s new riesling combines grape from three locations: the original Westering vineyard, planted by the late Geoff Hood about 40 years ago (but now part of the Karelas family’s Lake George Vineyard), the Fischer and Long Rail Gully vineyards, Murrumbateman. In the warm 2014 vintage, O’Leary riesling presents floral varietal aromas and a fairly full, gentle palate. The palate reflects the floral aroma and also includes lemon-like flavours and the zingy acidity to see it through several years in the cellar.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2014
First published 3 September 2014 in the Canberra Times and