Aussie wine reviews – seven varieties, six regions, four states

Jim Barry Veto Riesling 2015
Lodge Hill vineyard, Clare Valley, South Australia

Peter Barry and sons Tom and Sam put a bit of the mongrel into their new riesling. It zigs away from Australia’s traditional pure, delicate, lime-like style towards greater ripeness, with notably more body, grip and texture. Later harvesting, partial barrel fermentation in older oak and prolonged ageing on spent yeast cells contributed to the more assertive style. However, it remains bright, fresh, vibrant and recognisably riesling. The intensity of fruit flavour and strong acid backbone suggest good ageing potential. However, it remains to be seen whether the richer texture and grip add to its age-worthiness or bring the wine to early maturity.

Bremerton Graciano 2013
Langhorne Creek, South Australia


The red variety, graciano, grows in small quantities in Spain, Portugal and Sardinia. In Spain it makes a “fresh and aromatic contribution to Rioja blends, and the small but growing number of varietal wines”, writes Jancis Robinson. At Canberra’s Mount Majura winery, Frank van de Loo, includes it blends, but also makes a straight varietal. And down in Langhorne Creek sisters Lucy and Rebecca Willson let graciano loose in this cellar-door wine ( Deep coloured, with vivid crimson rim, it offers vibrant berry and herbal flavours on a brisk, acidic palate

Curly Flat Chardonnay 2013
Curly Flat vineyard, Macedon Ranges, Victoria

Fermentation and maturation in oak barrels introduces aromas, flavours and textures not found in the grape itself. The affect of oak varies from resiny, woody and intrusive to a symbiotic one, where the oak lifts the whole wine to another level of drinking pleasure, even of beauty. We find this in the painstakingly handcrafted wines of Curly Flat. The interplay of intense fruit flavours with the oak, and the spent yeast cells during maturation, results in a powerful, multi-dimensional, silky, elegant dry white.

Hay Shed Hill Shiraz Tempranillo 2012
Margaret River, Western Australia

In 2012 eastern Australian vignerons shivered through their second consecutive cool, wet vintage. But their Western Australian counterparts experienced, “an almost complete lack of summer rain with early season high temperatures giving way to mild middle and late vintage pattern”, writes Hay Shed Hill owner, Michael Kerrigan. The sunshine shows in Kerrigan’s lovely blend. Ripe, juicy, soft shiraz forms the base of the blend, while a small amount of tempranillo adds tannic grip and exotic spicy notes.

Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon 2014
Hunter Valley, NSW


If you enjoy Hunter semillon’s idiosyncratic style, Elizabeth remains one of Australia’s best value cellaring wines – and a great beneficiary of the screw cap. For a modest price, you can cellar a dozen, drink a bottle every year or two, and enjoy the journey from the light and lemony freshness of youth to the honeyed, toasty mellowness old age. The screw cap ensures the sound condition of every bottle opened over the years. Before the screw cap, cork-sealed semillons yielded widely varying results, from the brilliant to undrinkably oxidised, or cork tainted.

Lindemans St George Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
St George vineyard, Coonawarra, South Australia
A recent masked tasting paired Lindemans St George Vineyard Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon1998 with Chateau Calon-Segur 1996. The host, Bob Irwin and wife Chizuru, couldn’t have found more perfect examples of these regional specialties. From the first sniff, wine number one could only have been a Coonawarra cabernet; and wine number two a classic “claret” – a blend of cabernet and merlot from Bordeaux’s Medoc sub-region. The 17-year-old St George remained vibrant, varietal and beautifully elegant – and an absolute pleasure to drink. The current-release 2012 vintage possesses similar qualities and should provide outstanding drinking for several decades.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2015
First published 4 and 5 August 2015 in  and the Canberra Times