Wine review – Tyrrell’s, Rolf Binder, Clonakilla, Eddystone Point and Ravensworth

Tyrrell’s Vat 9 Shiraz $80–$90
Ashmans property, lower Hunter Valley, NSW
Where vignerons in much of eastern Australia struggled in the cold, wet 2011 vintage, Hunter winemakers turned out remarkable shirazes, like Tyrrell’s Vat 9. Always a regional benchmark of the medium bodied, long-lived style, Vat 9 in 2011 shows the extra fruit intensity of the good season. It’s sourced from old vines (average age 50 years) grown in the red volcanic soils of the Weinkeller and Short Flat vineyards on Tyrrell’s Ashmans property. Made from hand picked fruit, fermented in open vats and matured in large-format French-oak casks (2700-litre), the wine reveals the delicious flavour of outstanding fruit, gently handled. Maturation in oak, apart from polishing the silky tannins, gave a liveliness and aromatic lift that completes a harmonious, gentle, sensuous wine.

Tyrrell’s Stevens Shiraz 2011 $32.30–$38
Stevens family Old Hillside vineyard, lower Hunter Valley, NSW
Stevens shiraz shows a family resemblance to Vat 9 (above), but in a distinctly brawnier style. It offers the rich, juicy fruit flavours of the good season, with an underlying earthiness and savouriness, backed by solid, but soft, tannins. The grapes come from the Stevens family vineyard in Pokolbin, the traditional heart of the lower Hunter region. Tyrrell’s say the oldest vines on the block were planted in 1867 and “may be the oldest vines still in production in the Hunter Valley”.

Rolf Binder Shiraz 2012 $20
Barossa Valley, South Australia
Barossa winemaker Rolf Binder delivers huge value in this rich, ripe, satisfying Barossa shiraz. It’s notably fuller bodied than, say, the two Hunter wines reviewed today, with stronger, earthier tannins. Although it’s big and ripe, the wine’s harmonious without the heaviness or over-ripeness we once saw in many Barossa shirazes. Binder writes, “fruit was taken from a collection of five Barossa Valley shiraz vineyards with varying characteristics to add more complexity to this wine”. Binder singles out the northern Barossa and Marananga as key sub-regions in the blend.

Clonakilla Ceoltoiri 2013 $36–$45
Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW
Tim Kirk’s Ceoltoiri (the musicians) salutes the red blends of France’s Chateauneuf-du-Pape region. It combines “grenache, shiraz, mourvedre and a tiny splash of cinsault”, writes Kirk, adding, “it may surprise you”. It’s certainly different from last year’s release from the cool 2011 vintage. From the warm 2013 vintage, this year’s release offers the alluring, sweet, musk-like fragrance of ripe grenache, seasoned with spice and pepper. The brisk, medium bodied palate reflects the aroma, though the spicy character asserts itself through the fine, soft, savoury tannins.

Eddystone Point Riesling 2013 $26
Derwent and Coal River valleys, Tasmania
Eddystone Point, a new brand, comes from Accolade Wines’ Bay of Fires winery, Tasmania. The first Eddystone Point riesling, from the warm, early 2013 vintage, sets a high standard for following vintages, having won gold medals in the Hobart and Melbourne wine shows last year. The wine offers floral and lemon-like varietal aromas and an intense, juicy, mouth-watering palate. The wine’s intense acidity masks the almost seven-grams a litre of residual grape sugar, which simply fleshes out the palate of a unique and loveable riesling.

Ravensworth The Grainery 2013 $27–$30
Ravensworth vineyard, Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW
If it’s in the vineyard, it’s in the blend, it seems. Local winemaker Bryan Martin describes The Grainery 2013 as, “a blend of mainly marsanne, roussanne, chardonnay and viognier, plus a mixture of aromatic varieties, riesling, pinot gris, gewürztraminer and sauvignon blanc”. All were whole-bunch pressed to 600-litre barrels for spontaneous fermentation, with no wine maker additions other than sulphur dioxide, says Martin. The result is bright, medium-lemon coloured, full flavoured wine. Richly textured, bordering on viscous, with a pleasantly tart, melon-rind-like bite, it’s a most loveable and distinctive dry white.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2014
First published 9 April 2014 in the Canberra Times