Wine review – Penfolds, Ross Hill, Mawson’s, Andrew Thomas, Angullong and Kirrihill

Penfolds Bin 138 Shiraz Grenache Mataro 2012 $32–37
Barossa Valley, South Australia
After the skinny 2011 vintage, Penfolds Bin 138 returns to fleshy, juicy form in 2012. Though cooler than normal, the vintage provided sufficient heat to ripen the grapes fully – at the same delivering bold, heady, fruity aromas. The proportions of each variety varies considerably from year to year and in 2012 leads with shiraz (66 per cent), followed by grenache at 23 per cent and the rest mataro (aka mourvedre). Shiraz gives the wine great richness and depth of fruit flavour, but grenache adds greatly to the perfume and vibrant fruit flavour. Mataro is most likely the source of the persistent, grippy tannins behind the fleshy fruit. Could cellar for a decade or so in cool, stable conditions.

Ross Hill Pinnacle Series Shiraz 2012 $36
Ross Hill Griffin Road vineyard, Orange, NSW
During the Orange food week a tasting of Ross Hill’s outstanding Pinnacle shiraz prompted a visit the following morning to winemaker Phil Kerney at the winery. There we smelled the open fermenters of 2014 reds, still ticking over, and tasted the sensational 2013 Pinnacle shiraz and pinot noir from barrel. These are definitely wines to try on release next year. Right now, though, the 2012 Pinnacle shiraz provides magnificent drinking – in the spicy, peppery, taut-structured cool-climate mould. Ripe, delicious fruit bubbles away under the surface of this lovely wine.

Mawson’s Far Eastern Party Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 $12–$16
Wrattonbully, Limestone Coast, South Australia
In the export boom of the 1990s, Yalumba’s Robert Hill-Smith joined the scramble for broad-acre viticultural land in Wrattonbully – an undulating limestone formation sprawling 40 kilometres north–south along the Naracoorte tableland, touching Padthaway to the north and Coonawarra to the south. The vineyard, named for Antarctic explorer Douglas Mawson, is now home to Hill-Smith’s Mawson’s brand. Largely because of the climate, the region produces pure cabernet varietal flavour and the elegant structure we associate with nearby Coonawarra. Skilled use of oak adds complexity to a wine drinking beautifully now, four years after vintage. It delivers satisfying drinking and outstanding value for money. Watch for the retailer discounts.

Andrew Thomas Braemore Semillon 2013 $24–$30
Braemore vineyard, Pokolbin, lower Hunter Valley, NSW
Though sold out at cellar door, Andrew Thomas’s Hunter classic can still be found in some retail outlets. The grapes come from the sandy soils of the Braemore vineyard, planted in 1969. Delicate fruit handling and protective winemaking produce from these grapes a pure, delicate, long-lived expression of the Hunter’s unique semillon style. Delicate and light bodied (10.8 per cent alcohol) in youth with vivid lemongrass and lemon aromas and flavours, the wine will build in honeyed, toasty richness with prolonged bottle age.

Angullong Fossil Hill Tempranillo 2012 $19–$24
Angullong vineyard, Orange
During the export boom of the late nineties, Orange attracted several broad-acre vine plantings, including the Crossing family’s 220-hectare Angullong vineyard. The vineyard straddles the Orange–Central Ranges wine boundary for no other reason other than that part of it lies below the 600-metre altitude mark, Orange’s lower limit. Angullong offered its attractive, medium bodied savoury tempranillo at the outdoor night market during the recent Orange food week. Very comforting it was, too, in the cold, wet conditions. The Great Dividing Range now offers a wonderful diversity of good wines.

Kirrihill Noble Vineyard Fiano 2013 $25
Waikerie, Murray Valley, Riverland, South Australia
Southern Italy’s white variety, fiano, makes a range of styles in Australia, from McLaren Vale’s comparatively polished and suave Coriole, to this more rustic version from South Australia’s hot Riverland district. It offers a drinking experience well removed from our every day fare – with big, ripe, apricot-like aroma, full, slick-textured palate and slightly hot, grippy, tart finish. Hamish Seabrook makes it at Clare Valley-based Kirrihill winery.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2014
First published 7 May 2014 in the Canberra Times