Wine review – Wynns, Le Cirque Wine Co, West Cape Howe, Toolangi, and Larry Cherubino

Wynns Coonawarra Estate V and A Lane Shiraz 2012$ 48–$60
V and Lane vineyard, Coonawarra, South Australia
Coonawarra appears flat and homogenous – a sea of vines hugging the north–south Riddoch Highway for many kilometres. But ripening times vary widely. At about the half-way mark, V and A Lane intersects the highway, marking what was once said to be the southern boundary of shiraz in Coonawarra – “shiraz won’t ripen south of V and A Lane”, went the local saying. The saying no longer holds. Indeed, Wynns’ V and A shiraz block, sitting on the Lane’s southern side, ripens earlier than its other shiraz vineyards. In 2012 the vineyard produced a particularly finely structured, elegant shiraz, featuring vibrant red-currant-like fruit flavours. Sympathetic use of French oak amplifies the fruit in a vivacious wine with a fine, persistent tannin structure.

Le Cirque Wine Co Muscle Man Shiraz 2013 $17
McLaren Vale, South Australia
Everyone loves a circus, a bargain and a McLaren Vale shiraz. And here we have it all in one bottle, presented to us by one of Australia’s old family wine companies, Angoves. They source the fruit from Willunga, Blewitt Springs and Clarendon in McLaren Vale, ferment it with ambient yeasts in small, 70-year-old open-topped concrete fermenters, and mature it for nine months in oak barrels. The result is a ripe, juicy, vibrant red with a savoury soft finish, true to its McLaren Vale origins.

West Cape Howe Chardonnay 2013 $15–$17
Western Australia
“No wood, no good”, Wolf Blass reportedly said of red wines not matured in oak barrels. The same could be said broadly of chardonnay – a variety at its best when fermented and matured in barrels (like Larry Cherubino Pedestal, reviewed today). West Cape Howe, however, tacks successfully in another direction. Winemaker Gavin Berry ferments it at low temperature in stainless steel tanks to capture the fruit flavour and aromatics. He pops it in older oak barrels after this to build the wine’s texture without inserting oak flavours. He delivers a rich, vibrant chardonnay with all the focus on fresh, citrus-like varietal flavour.

Toolangi Pinot Noir 2012 $25–$27
Dixon’s Creek and Yarra Glen, Yarra Valley, Victoria
Toolangi offers a lighter, tighter style of pinot noir. Produced from low yielding vines, and all the hands-on tricks of pinot making, it offers delicate, cherry-like varietal flavour on a finely structured palate. Fresh acidity and fine tannins give the wine a tight structure that carries the fruit across the palate and gives a clean, persistent dry finish.

Larry Cherubino Pedestal Chardonnay 2013 $25
Margaret River, Western Australia
Larry Cherubino’s Pedestal chardonnay shows the generous flavours of a warm season in Margaret River. Typical of a Cherubino wine, Pedestal seamlessly folds the fruit flavour together with the influences of fermentation with natural yeasts in new and used French oak barrels – followed by maturation in those barrels. The technique gives the wine a rich, silky texture to carry the beautiful fruit flavours satisfyingly across the palate.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Shiraz 2012$28.49–$45
Coonawarra, South Australi
A few years back, Wynns introduced Black Label Shiraz, priced between the ever-popular grey label ($14–$20) and flagship Michael Shiraz ($104–$120). Extensive plantings during the nineties enabled greater production. Coupled with finer segmentation of vineyard parcels, and an increase in the winery’s capacity to handle multiple small batches, this allowed Wynns to maintain quality and volume of existing labels while introducing distinctive new products at higher prices. The owner, Treasury Wine Estates, naturally hoped its big investments in Coonawarra might bolster its lacklustre bottom line. Good luck with that, I say, as the big retailers finally set the price – generally dramatically below the hopeful recommended price. Oh, the wine? It’s a beautiful rich, elegant cool-climate shiraz with good cellaring potential.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2014
First published 23 July 2014 in the Canberra Times