Wine review – Freeman, Long Rail Gully, Vasse Felix, Yering Station and Ulithorne

Freeman Nebbiolo 2013
Freeman Altura vineyard, Hilltops, NSW

Nebbiolo, the great red variety of Barolo and Barbaresco, Piedmont, provides more disappointments than triumphs. All too often intractable tannins swamp any initial pleasure in the soaring aroma and fruit sweetness. However, in Brian Freeman’s nebbiolo from Young, NSW, deep fruit flavours – reminiscent of dark, sour cherries – maintain a happy balance with the robust tannins. Indeed, this delicious consummation of opposing but equal forces creates an exciting flavour and textural sensation.

Long Rail Gully Riesling 2015
Long Rail Gully vineyard, Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW


The Parker family established the 22-hectare Long Rail Gully vineyard, one of Canberra’s largest, in 1998. They originally sold fruit to Hardys, but these days they make wine for their own and other labels, and continue selling grapes to several local winemakers. The consistently outstanding wines, made by Richard Parker, son of founders Garry and Barbara Parker, remain very modestly priced for whatever reason. The 2015 shows the floral-and-lemony aromatics of riesling, with a delicate and delicious palate, featuring lovely lime-like varietal flavour and lingering, ultra-fresh dry finish.

Vasse Felix Filius Chardonnay 2014
Vasse Felix vineyard, Margaret River, Western Australia

Each vintage Vasse Felix winemaker Virginia Willcock makes many batches of chardonnay – all fermented and matured for nine-months in a mix of new and older oak barrels. She grades the barrels and from them blends three wines – the flagship Heytesbury ($75), a “quintessential” Margaret River chardonnay ($37) and “Filius” ($28), so-called son of quintessential. This is an exciting wine for the price as it captures the dazzling richness and freshness of Margaret River chardonnay, complete with the aroma, flavour and textural seasonings introduced by high-quality oak barrels. This is a brilliant chardonnay for the price.

Little Yering Shiraz Viognier 2013
Yarra Valley, Victoria

Little Yering “spent its childhood in French oak”, declares the back label. I can report 12-months solitary confinement did nothing to restrain its youthful exuberance. Indeed the wine cartwheels pure, fruity enthusiasm across the palate, spreading the vibrant red-berry and spice deliciousness of Yarra Valley shiraz. Some of the vigour and thrust no doubt comes from the small portion of the white viognier in the blend; and the fine, spicy, soft tannins perhaps derive from oak as well as the fruit. It’s a pretty and yummy medium-bodied red to enjoy now.
Long Rail Gully Shiraz 2014
Long Rail Gully vineyard, Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW

Long Rail Gully 2014 sits towards the lighter-coloured end of Canberra’s medium-bodied shiraz spectrum. Consistent with the lighter colour, the aroma reveals a cool-grown, spicy, even peppery, side of shiraz. Spicy-pepper flavours carry through on the palate, in tandem with lively, fresh fruit flavours. Spicy, fine tannins cut through the fine, smooth palate giving length to the dry finish.

Ulithorne Immortelle 2013
Corsica, France

Immortelle’s official French appellation, “Indication Geographique Protegee Ile de Beaute” translates to country wine of the island of beauty (Corsica). And, indeed this medium bodied red combines the local grape varieties minustellu, niellucciu and carcaghjolo neru with syrah. Ulithorne’s Rose Kentish made the wine in conjunction with Corsican friends. The result: a crimson-rimmed red of medium hue with delightful floral and herb-garden aroma. The bright, fresh, medium-bodied palate precisely reflects the aroma, combining sweet underlying fruit with herbs and fine, grippy, savoury tannins.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2015
First published 22 and 23 September 2015 in and the Canberra Times