Wine review – Yangarra, Gallagher and Sandalford

Yangarra McLaren Vale Shiraz 2012 $25
Yangarra’s irresistible red sits towards the finer end of McLaren Vale shiraz spectrum. It’s ripe, smooth and satisfying, but a tad lighter in body than some of its neighbours. Tasted alongside several other 2012 Australian shirazes, it pleased for the spice, savour and secondary earthy, leathery notes cutting through the lovely, bright fruit. We can’t quite evoke winemaker Peter Fraser’s “smells of rain on hot sun-baked sandstone and rusty galvo, and explosives in the quarry”. But we admire the passion and might drink the wine based on his descriptions alone.

Gallagher Canberra District Chardonnay 2014 $20
Greg Gallagher’s chardonnay offers just-off-the-vine fruity freshness, with zingy acidity biting through the melon-rind and citrus-like varietal flavours. There’s no oak in sight, leaving the fruit to provide the flavour and structure. Gallagher describes the vintage as a “season of two halves” – a dry warm first half, during which he picked most of the crop; and a wet second half, accompanied by disease, which destroyed some of the crop. He adds, the chardonnay “benefited from being harvested in the first part of this picking season”.

Sandalford Element Western Australia Merlot 2013 $11–$14
The first Sunday in spring calls for a note of optimism and a lighter bodied, fruity, luncheon red. Sandalford’s multi-region Western Australian merlot presents a fragrant, soft and fruity version of a chameleon variety. The variety adds perfume and mid-palate flesh to many seriously good cabernet blends. But it can also be medium bodied, fruity and soft, like this one; or dark, brooding, tannic and long lived, as in Pomerol’s classic Chateau Petrus or Petaluma’s Coonawarra merlot. At lunch, in spring, however, we opt for Sandalford’s happy floral and musk perfume and bright, friendly, fruity freshness.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2014
First published 7 September in the Canberra Times and