Delamere Naissante Pinot Noir 2012 $23–$27
Tamar Valley, Tasmania
A leisurely new year’s eve dinner at Moruya’s River Restaurant provided three of today’s wine recommendations. Delamere pinot accompanied the fourth of seven courses – a luxurious duck and ham hock terrine, with shallot chutney and truffle vinaigrette. The wine’s bright, plush fruitiness added to the sweetness of the duck and ham hock. After the initial fruity hit, Naissante revealed deeper savoury flavours and the fine, silky tannins of a satisfying, serious pinot noir. Husband and wife team Shane Holloway and Fran Austin (formerly Bay of Fires) make the wines. (See delamerevineyards.com.au). Fran Austin writes, “The fruit is sourced from five little independent growers around the Tamar Valley, eastern and western banks, just little pockets we think are interesting”.
Fass 4 Gruner Veltliner (Weingut Bernhard Ott) 2012
Wagram, Austria $32–$39
What all-purpose, off-the-regular-Australian-menu-white could we enjoy with the first three courses at River Restaurant, Moruya? What could roll successfully through Horseradish and beetroot, cured salmon, and crab-filled zucchini flowers? We chose Austria’s signature white, gruner veltliner, grown in the Wagram region, at latitude 48 degrees north. Bernhard Ott’s 2012 excited with its shimmering, pale lemon-green colour and pristine, spicy–fruity aroma. The delicate but intense palate revealed spice and melon-rind flavours, smooth texture and refreshing, dry finish. Served too cold initially, it gave its best as it warmed to around 10 degrees.
Crozes-Hermitage (E. Guigal) 2010 $35–$38
Crozes-Hermitage, Northern Rhone Valley, France
The wines of Crozes-Hermitage generally rank below those of its northern Rhone shiraz-producing neighbours, Cote-Rotie and Hermitage. Thankfully, that means a lower price and, at its best, yet another unique expression of shiraz from the variety’s home. From River Restaurant’s wine list, we selected Guigal’s 2010 vintage as company for our grilled eye fillet. We’d normally opt for a more tannic wine, like cabernet. But Guigal’s ripe, medium bodied, spicy shiraz worked with this tender, sweet cut of beef. The wine also had sufficient fine tannin and savour to add life to all the protein and fat.
Chablis (Domaine Fevre) 2012$36
At restaurant 86, Braddon, we rediscovered a simple and great wine–food combination: fresh oysters and Chablis. The restaurant presented Clyde River oysters at their best: ice cold and ultra-fresh with the briny tang of the sea. That briny tang overwhelms many wines. But austere Chablis stands up to the attack, adding the unique flavours of mouth-wateringly acidic chardonnay grown in France’s cold north. Ergo Wine Imports distributes Domaine Fevre mainly to restaurants, including 86, and to one Canberra retail outlet, Plonk, Fyshwick Markets.
Tyrrell’s Lost Block Shiraz $15–$18
Tyrrell’s Lost Block began as a single wine in 1993 – a bottling from a block of semillon grapes harvested as an after thought. The latest iteration features quirky labels on a small range of regional–varietal specialties, including this shiraz from Heathcote, Victoria. Tyrrell’s bring the fruit to the Hunter for winemaking. The winemaking and maturation techniques capture vibrant fruity–savoury varietal flavour, reminiscent of ripe black cherries. The combination of fruit and soft, savoury tannins give Lost Block great drink-now appeal.
Richard Hamilton Riesling 2014 $19.95
Bryskies vineyard, Watervale, Clare Valley, South Australia
Richard Hamilton is perhaps best known for his Richard Hamilton McLaren Vale and Leconfield Coonawarra reds. However, in 2014, Hamilton’s winemaker, Paul Gordon, sourced riesling from the time-proven Bryskies vineyard in Watervale, at the southern end of the Clare Valley. The result is a beautiful example of this great regional specialty. It offers Watervale’s pure, lime-like varietal aromas and flavours and a light, delicate, soft palate, cut with brisk, drying acidity.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2015
First published 27 and 28 January 2015 in Fairfax digital media and the Canberra Times