Wine review – Balnaves, Lerida Estate, Battle of Bosworth, Mount Horrocks, Traviarti, and d’Arenberg

Balnaves “The Tally” Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Balnaves family vineyards, Coonawarra, South Australia

The dense colour and vivid purple meniscus suggest a five-year old of great staying power. The aroma and palate confirm the wine’s youth and could accurately be described as essence of cabernet. Ripe cassis-like varietal flavour saturates a powerful palate, deeply layered with fruit and tannin, part of it oak derived. Despite the wine’s power, it retains Coonawarra’s elegant structure. Were it not for the ProCork seal – a cork coated with a wrinkly, plastic membrane at each end – this would be a five-star wine. Wine has already travelled past the membrane, raising questions about the seal’s long-term integrity, crucial in a potentially very long lived wine.

Lerida Estate Pinot Noir 2014
Lerida vineyard, Lake George, Canberra District, NSW


Lerida Estate lit up an inconsistent pinot noir class at the local agricultural society’s Canberra and Region Wine Show 2015, winning the only two gold medals among16 entrants. Judges rated the $65 Lerida Josephine 2014 slightly ahead of the $26 wine, which is due for release in about three months, says owner Jim Lumbers. Lerida’s $35 Cullarin Pinot Noir 2014 won a bronze medal in the same class. Lumbers long-term vineyard and winery work on pinot, in conjunction with winemaker Malcolm Burdett, is paying off. He says pinot is the only red variety to ripen reliably on this elevated, cool site. Continuing tweaks to canopy management and winemaking regime produced this aromatic, fine-boned, silky style.

Battle of Bosworth Shiraz 2013
The Hill, Braden’s and Chanticleer vineyards, McLaren Vale, South Australia

Nothing fancy about Battle of Bosworth 2013, just a big mouthful of ripe, juicy shiraz flavours, reminiscent of luscious black cherries or, as one taster saw it, sour cherry. In the ripe, early 2013 vintage that lovely fruit flavour remains at the heart of the wine, where in cooler years the spicy and savoury characters of McLaren Vale shiraz tend to be more pronounced. Ripe, soft tannins match the sweet fruit and complete a delicious, drink-now red.

Mount Horrocks Semillon 2014
Watervale, Southern Clare Valley, South Australia

Stephanie Toole’s semillon provides the full body and texture of an oak-fermented white but unique flavours, far removed from our usual oak-fermented tipple, chardonnay. Semillon’s unique lemon- and lemongrass-like characters come through in both the aroma and flavour and give delicious vigour and life to the deep, satisfying palate. The 2014 perhaps shows a little less flesh and more lemongrass character than the 2013.

Traviarti Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Fighting Gully vineyard, Beechworth, Victoria

Simon Grant moved to north-eastern Victoria to head a grape-grower cooperative before buying land in Beechworth. He established a vineyard devoted mainly to Piedmontese variety nebbiolo, with a smaller amount of Spain’s tempranillo. While waiting for his own vineyard to produce, Grant sourced cabernet grapes from Mark Walpole’s neighbouring Fighting Gully Road vineyard. It’s a tasty first effort, offering ripe, well-defined cabernet varietal flavours, with good mid-palate richness (often missing from cabernet) and assertive tannins, which give a firm, dry finish.

d’Arenberg The Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne 2014
McLaren Vale, South Australia
McLaren Vale’s warm climate appears to suit Rhone Valley white varieties viognier and marsanne better than it does chardonnay, riesling and sauvignon blanc. Chester Osborne’s blend puts the bolder of the two varieties, viognier, in the driver’s seat. This gives the wine its distinctive apricot- and ginger-like character and slick texture, ameliorated somewhat by the marsanne. For a reasonable price it provides vibrant, rich, dry drinking with unique flavour and texture.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2015
First published 27 and 28 October 2015 in and the Canberra Times