Wine review – Grosset, Yarrh, McKellar Ridge, Tselepos, Windowrie and Hay Shed Hill

Grosset Polish Hill Riesling 2015
Grosset Polish Hill vineyard, Clare Valley, South Australia

Geoffrey Grosset’s thirty-fifth Polish Hill riesling harvest arrived early. The vintage, “Was mild and early. Starting February 8th following a very mild December and even cooler than average January, vintage was not only the most compressed, but also the earliest in thirty-five years”, writes Grosset. The cool season produced small, thick-skinned berries, yielding an equivalent of two bottles per vine, he says. Those small berries produced a riesling of extraordinary concentration, but in the most delicate, refined way imaginable – characteristics suggested by the lovely aroma and confirmed by the powerful, fine, luscious, absolutely bone-dry palate. This is as good as Australian riesling gets at present – though Tasmania may one day throw down a challenge, albeit in a different style.

Yarrh Sangiovese 2013
Yarrh vineyard, Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW
Neil McGregor and Fiona Wholohan planted Yarrh’s first sangiovese in 2001 and in 2004 made their first wine from it. The success of the variety, prompted them to graft over another half-hectare, which is due to come into production in 2016. Wholohan makes the wines to a consistent medium-bodied, savoury style with the body rising or falling in line with vintage conditions. The almost sold out 2012, for example, shows the lighter body of a cool year; while the 2013 shows the extra depth and richness of a great season. Wholohan aptly describes the fruit flavour as sour-cherry-like. This is cut with firm, tight, earthy tannins, reminiscent of the lighter wines of Tuscany’s Chianti region, the home of sangiovese.

McKellar Ridge Riesling 2015
Briar Hill vineyard, Wallaroo, Canberra District, NSW

Brian and Janet Johnston make McKellar Ridge riesling from fruit grown on Phil and Judy Thompson’s Briar Hill vineyard at Wallaroo. Their 2015 vintage earned the top gold medal in its class before going on to win trophies as best riesling and best boutique wine in the NSW Small Winemakers Show. The wine shows the lemony thrust and bite of very young Canberra riesling, softened by a very small dose of residual grape sugar, which gives flesh but not sweetness to the palate.

Tselepos Agiorgitiko 2013
Nemea, Peloponnisos, Greece

Melbourne’s Hellenic Republic restaurant (434 Lygon Street, East Brunswick) offers an all-Greek wine list, including many of their own imports. Having little experience of Greek wine, we deferred to the sommelier, who steered us to this enjoyable red, made from the agiorgitiko grape, grown at Nemea, in the northwest Peloponnisos. Medium bodied and fragrant, it offered bright, ripe-berry flavours on an initially supple palate, cut with rustic, savoury tannins that worked well with the food. For stockists contact

Windowrie The Mill Verdelho 2015
Central Ranges, NSW

In the late eighties and early nineties, The O’Dea family planted hundreds of hectares of their extensive Windowrie property to vines. Initially, they sold to other makers but now make significant volumes on site for their own label. Fruit sourcing now extends along the large Central Ranges zones, and includes this appealing dry white, made from Madeira’s verdelho grape. A fairly full-bodied style, it offers pleasantly tart, flavours, reminiscent of melon-rind. These give a twist to the dry finish and make the wine distinct from our more familiar varieties.

Hay Shed Hill Cabernet Merlot 2013
Hay Shed Hill vineyard, Wilyabrup, Margaret River, Western Australia
In this reasonably priced red, winemaker Michael Kerrigan gives us the varietal purity and power of Margaret River cabernet sauvignon and merlot. The fruit wells up richly on the palate, yielding cabernet’s cassis, merlot’s chocolate and the minty-leafy character seen in both varieties. Well-balanced oak helps fill out the generous mid palate and contributes to the firm, dry finish we expect of these varieties.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2015
First published 15 and 16 September 2015 in  and the Canberra Times