Wine review – Skillogallee, Ulithorne, All Saints, Peter Lehmann, Domaine Chandon and Lake Breeze

Skillogalee Trevarrick Single Contour Riesling 2012 $52.50
Skillogalee vineyard, Sevenhill, Clare Valley, South Australia
Each vintage, Skillogalee’s Dave Palmer makes a number of individual rieslings from various vineyard blocks. Most end up in the blending vat and go to market as the estate riesling. In the exceptional 2012 vintage, however, Palmer bottled a small parcel from “the highest altitude, earliest ripening contour on the property at around 500 metres”. Trevarrick (the original name of the Skillogalee property) shows a very powerful but fine and delicate face of riesling. At two years’ age, it’s moved beyond youthful floral notes to deeper lemon and lime character in the aroma, with a palate of unusual flavour concentration and textural richness. The high acidity accentuates the very long, bone-dry finish. This will probably cellar for many years. Sealed with the Vino-Lok glass stopper.

Ulithorne “Dona” Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2013 $24
Blewitt Springs, McLaren Flat, valley floor, McLaren Vale, South Australia
At 60 per cent of the blend, fragrant, softy, fruity grenache plays the lead role in this lovely red. However, the shiraz component (30 per cent) fills out the palate, while mourvedre adds to the wine’s tannic backbone. The overall impression is of a gentle, easy-to-drink red with vibrant, juicy fruit (with a touch of spice) and soft but assertive tannins. Winemaker Rose Kentish worked four vintages in France and says she drew inspiration from southern Rhone Valley blends of these varieties – particularly in letting the fruit talk, and not burdening it with oak flavours.

All Saints Estate Family Cellar Durif 2009 $60
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. Some say it’s a meal in itself. All Saints, however, do much to tame those tannins during winemaking, resulting in a most approachable version under the Family Cellar label. Evan at five years, the bright fresh fruit remains in the grip of muscular but supple tannins. Hey, it is a meal in itself.

Peter Lehmann H and V Eden Valley Riesling 2014$19–$22
Eden Valley, South Australia
South Australia suffered two severe heatwaves in January 2014, the second pushing into the first two days of February, before flaring up again on the twelfth and thirteenth. Above average winter and springs rains, however, provided ample subsoil moisture to help vines through the torrid conditions. Peter Lehmann H and V riesling, was picked in milder conditions at the end of February. The wine shows a fuller and more floral aroma than we generally see from the Eden Valley, though the palate delivers more of a vibrant lime-like flavour with a pure, fresh, zesty finish.

Domaine Chandon Chardonnay 2013 $23–$26
Yarra Valley, Victoria
Winemaker Dan Buckle says, “Our 2013 Chandon chardonnay draws on grapes from vineyards at varying altitudes within the Yarra Valley”. Variations in altitude within the valley means a range of ripening times and temperatures and, with that, considerable variation in varietal flavours, tending from citrusy in cooler parts to melon and stone fruit in warmer sites. This diversity of fruit undergoes spontaneous fermentation, then maturation, in French oak barrels. The wine retains beautifully fresh citrus- and nectarine-like varietal flavour, with velvety, rich texture and a lovely acidity attenuating the flavour and clean dry finish.

Lake Breeze Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 $21.85–$24
Follett family vineyards, Langhorne Creek, South Australia
Langhorne Creek, near Lake Alexandrina, South Australia, supplies large volumes of high quality grapes to Australia’s biggest wine brands, including Jacob’s Creek, Penfolds and Wolf Blass. The region’s comparatively high yields and quality appeal as much to the accountants as they do to the winemakers – though it’s a pity to see so much of this material blended anonymously away. Local growers like the Follett family, however, make excellent wines bearing the regional name. Cabernet performs particularly well, retaining clear varietal flavour and firm structure, with a full palate sometimes missing in cabernet from other regions. Lake Breeze is a very drinkable expression of the regional style.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2014
First published 2 July 2014 in the Canberra Times