Wine review – Wynns, Mistletoe, Yering Station, De Bortoli, Brand’s Laira and Le Cirque Wine Co

Wynns Coonawarra Estate V and A Lane Cabernet Shiraz 2012 $47.50–$60
Wynns V and A vineyard, Coonawarra, South Australia
It’s a hard concept to convey (short of taking a mouthful), but wines can have enormous concentration of fruit flavour but remain medium bodied and graceful. This is the classic, but not always achieved, Coonawarra standard of delivering power with elegance. Sue Hodder’s lovely blend achieves that. She co-fermented cabernet sauvignon and shiraz from the company’s V and A vineyard, Coonawarra, and subsequently matured the wine in a combination of new and older French oak barrels. Cabernet lends savoury, black-olive-like undercurrents and a firm, fine structure to the supple palate, featuring the sweet red-cherry-like fruit of the shiraz. Oak gives great buoyancy to the fruit, adds its own spicy flavours and contributes to the fine structure.

Mistletoe Reserve Semillon 2013 $25
Pokolbin, Lower Hunter Valley, NSW
Mistletoe makes three Hunter semillons – the traditional bone-dry Reserve, the half-dry Home Vineyard and the quite sweet Silvereye. The latter two come as quite a shock to lovers of the traditional dry style, though proprietor Ken Sloan writes, “these three wines continue to surprise and delight visitors to our cellar door”. The sweeter wines are worth trying, but the dry Reserve really stands out as an exceptional wine in the outstanding Hunter Vintage. At 11 per cent alcohol, it’s light bodied and the austere, lemony acid accentuates the intense but delicate lemongrass-like varietal flavour to delicious, mouth watering effect. I suspect this will evolve into a classic toasty Hunter style over many, many years.

Yering Station Chardonnay 2011 $32–$38
Yering Station, Yarra Valley, Victoria
The Rathbone family’s Yering Station consistently makes some of the Yarra’s most exciting chardonnays – even in the cool, wet 2011 season. The aroma presents a notable “struck match” character (naturally occurring sulphur compounds) now commonplace in Australian chardonnays. Their presence provokes a good deal of discussion among show judges, mainly some wines lack the fruit to carry such pungent seasoning. Yering Station does, however. And that’s what’s so delicious about it – that seasoning, aided by spicy oak – becomes part of the intense fruit and luxurious smooth texture.

De Bortoli Vinoque Pinot Noir 2012 $25
Dixons Creek and Tarrawarra, Yarra Valley, Victoria
Australia’s maturing pinot-making ability shows when our makers pack so much goodness and sheer “pinosity” into a wine at this price. Steve Webber’s Vinoque excites for its complex, earthy, beetroot-like aroma, and the fruit power and firm tannin structure of the palate. Webber writes, “2012 was a stonking season for pinot noir in the Yarra Valley with near perfect growing conditions”. Find out what “stonking” means – try Vinoque.

Brand’s Laira Cabernet Merlot 2012 $ 16–$24
Coonawarra, South Australia
The late Eric Brand bought the Laira vineyard in about 1950 and sold grapes until making his first wine in 1996. In 1990 he sold a half stake in the business to McWilliams, who took full ownership in 1994. The vineyard holds now extend well to the west of the original plantings, while the older vines contribute to the company’s flagship and far more expensive wines. The 2012 Laira cabernet merlot, a full-bodied Coonawarra style, offers ripe plummy flavours, tinged with mint and herbal notes. Strong, firm tannins give a satisfying grip to the workmanlike regional style.

Le Cirque Wine Co Whiz Bang Barossa Shiraz 2013 $16–$18
Barossa Valley, South Australia
The Angove family offers two full-bodied, warm climate shirazes under its Le Cirque Wine Company label – this Barossa version and the more savoury McLaren Vale Muscle Man 2013, reviewed last week. Should you see them together in store, perhaps grab a bottle of each as they illustrate the regional differences clearly and at a realistic price. Whiz Bang offers the sweet, black-cherry aroma of fully ripened Barossa shiraz. The sweet fruit flavours flow onto the opulent palate, coated in the Barossa’s tender, soft tannins.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2014
First published 30 July 2014 in the Canberra Times