Wine reviw – Pig in the House, Mr Riggs and Yellowtail

Pig in the House Cowra Chardonnay 2013 $20
Cowra played an important role in Australia’s chardonnay-drinking history. In 1977 the region provided fruit for the first and extraordinarily influential Petaluma chardonnay. And in the following decades it fed the ever-growing success of Rothbury Estate’s chardonnay. Back then, the style was ripe and peachy with a big lick of oak. But the market moved on to lighter, fresher, less oaky styles, and Cowra makers, in general, moved with it, albeit in declining volumes. Pig in the House, made at Windowrie Winery (belonging to the extended O’Dea family), presents the modern face of Cowra chardonnay – fresh and fruity (white-peach-like), medium bodied, zesty and dry.

Mr Riggs The Gaffer McLaren Vale Shiraz 2012 $19–$22
While Canberra vignerons enthuse more over the 2013 vintage than the cooler 2012 season, McLaren Vale winemaker Ben Riggs writes, “[2012 is] likely to be one of the better South Australian vintages of recent times”. He goes on, “McLaren Vale was a particularly lucky candidate, with a wet winter and relatively mild-to-warm summer and autumn over the ripening period, culminating in top-notch fruit”. The quality of the fruit shows in Riggs’s The Gaffer. It’s ripe, fruity, savoury and generous, but not at all heavy. That generous mid-palate and savoury, dry tannins give it a special McLaren Vale thumbprint, loved by so many red drinkers.

Yellowtail Australia Shiraz 2014 $8.55–$10
The Casella family’s affordable Yellowtail wines enjoy enormous international success – particularly in the USA where it’s the number one import, with sales reportedly in excess of 8.5 million dozen bottles annually. Add Casella’s domestic sales, and exports to around 50 countries and, by my estimate, total output could be around 12 million cases annually. Grapes are sourced from a vast network of independent grape growers, representing perhaps 10–11 thousand hectares of vines across Australia. Yellowtail’s barely-off-the-vine shiraz offers simple, clean, fresh, fruity, drink-now pleasure – but not the satisfying, more sturdy structure of, say, the Mr Riggs Gaffer reviewed today.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2014
First published 31 August 2014 in the Canberra Times and