Wine review – Robert Stein, Rusty Fig, Hand Crafted by Geoff Hardy Moppity Vineyard and Houghton

Robert Stein Riesling 2014 $35
Robert Stein vineyard, Mudgee, NSW

At the excellent St Isidore restaurant, Milton, we kicked off a joyous lunch with the delicious Robert Stein riesling. Riesling can be austere when young. But winemaker Jacob Stein backed the natural lime-like varietal flavour of this one with gentle mid-palate texture. The flavour comes from the family’s 38-year-old vines, located at about 600 metres. And he uses three techniques to build texture: allowing about ten per cent of the blend to ferment naturally on skins for about a week; leaving the wine on spent yeast cells for a short period; and arresting the ferment to leave about eight grams a litre of grape sugar in the wine. Nine grams a litre of natural acid offsets this low-level sweetness, creating a mouth-watering sensation of full flavour, smooth texture and a tease of sweetness, with brisk, refreshing acidity. The wine will be released mid December and will be available at cellar door ( and selected retail outlets, including Plonk, Fyshwick.

Rusty Fig Savarino 2014 $16.50–$23
Rusty Fig vineyard, Bermagui, NSW

In 2002, Gary Potts and Frances Perkins planted the 1.6-hectare Rusty Fig vineyard between Bermagui and Cobargo. They produce red and rose wine from the Spanish variety tempranillo and two whites, verdelho and savarino (made from the savagnin blanc grape). All of the wines are made by Brian Sinclair at Brindabella Hills Winery, Hall. Rusty Fig Savarino 2014 worked well with a variety of seafood at St Isidore restaurant, Milton, recently. It provided an interesting departure from riesling, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay with its medium body, citrus-like flavours and dry savoury finish. It’s available at Plonk Fyshwick, several south coast bottle shops between Moruya and Eden and by the dozen only online (

Hand Crafted by Geoff Hardy Teroldego 2012 $25–$28
Adelaide Hills and Langhorne Creek, South Australia

What a surprise to find on St Isidore restaurant’s list a wine made from Trentino’s little-known teroldego grape – a relative of both shiraz and pinot noir. Geoff Hardy planted the variety at Langhorne Creek in 2003 and later at Kuitpo in the cooler Adelaide Hills. Hardy’s son, Sebastian, says until 2009 they made the wine from Langhorne Creek fruit then moved to blends from both regions. They now favour the material from the Adelaide Hills for its brightness and ability to develop flavour at low potential alcohol levels. The 2012 appealed for its medium body, fresh mulberry and blueberry-like fruit flavours, fresh acidity and savouriness – a tasty, refreshing red to enjoy on a hot day down the coast.

Moppity Vineyard Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 $30
Moppity vineyard, Hilltops region, NSW

Canberra’s neighbouring and slightly warmer Hilltops region rivals us in shiraz quality but appears to have the edge with cabernet sauvignon. Jason and Alicia Brown’s 2013 Moppity, with three trophies and two gold medals, shows what the region can do. The medium-bodied, elegant red displays pure, bright, ripe-berry varietal aroma and a palate to match – complete with juicy mid-palate flesh that easily carries the firm backbone of tannin.

Moppity Vineyard Reserve Shiraz 2013 $70
Moppity vineyard, Hilltops regions, NSW

Moppity vineyard produces a potentially confusing range of six shirazes under various Moppity and Lock and Key labels. The wines range in price from as low as $14 for the basic Lock and Key wine, to $120 for Moppity Eclipse. The quality is exceptional across the range, which has collectively won three trophies and 23 golds this year. Moppity Reserve 2013 triumphed at this year’s Great Australian Shiraz Challenge. It was the first NSW wine to take the title in the show’s 20-year history – against 400 shirazes from 60 regions. It’s a powerful but elegant, supple and savoury shiraz, with an underlying fruit flavour reminiscent of the region’s juicy, ripe, black cherries. The value pick of the range is Lock and Key 2013 (three gold medals).

Houghton Crofters Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2013 $15–$19
Pemberton and Margaret River, Western Australia

Western Australia’s Houghton brand was long ago absorbed into Hardys and is now part of the Accolade Wine Group. Under Hardys, Houghton expanded its WA offerings beyond its Swan Valley base to cooler regions hundreds of kilometres to the south. Those southern areas of Western Australia pretty well own the sauvignon blanc–semillon blend category in Australia, albeit in a range of styles. Houghton’s blend from the Pemberton and Margaret River regions delivers lively grassy and passionfruit-like flavours. All the emphasis is on fruit and drink-now pleasure.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2014
First published 18 and 19 November 2014 in and the Canberra Times