Wine review – Lark Hill, Taylors, Seppelt, Stella Bella, Wilson, Penfolds

Lark Hill Gruner Veltliner 2015
Lark Hill vineyard, Lake George Escarpment, Canberra District, NSW

Lark Hill 2015 gruner veltliner surpasses the quality of its very good 2014, created in a very difficult season. In contrast, “2015 provided optimum vintage conditions and we picked higher than normal quantities of fruit, with incredible quality and intensity”, writes winemaker Chris Carpenter. The intensely flavoured, deeply textured white supports Carpenter’s excitement. A multi-dimensional expression of this Austrian variety, it tingles and thrills with lemon- and melon-rind -like tartness on a sensuous palate, with a subtle rasp of skin tannins and taut, invigorating acid.

Taylors Estate Shiraz 2014
Clare Valley, South Australia


Taylors cheap and cheery 2014 Estate Shiraz beat several big names – including $147 Wolf Blass Platinum Label and $58 Seppelt St Peters – to pull off first place in the 2015 Great Australian Shiraz Challenge. The award came on top of its trophy for best shiraz in the Perth Royal Wine Show and nine gold medals awarded at various events. The wine’s vivid fruit booms out of the glass and precisely predicts the juicy, soft palate that follows. Little wonder the judges ranked it so highly in a no-doubt daunting line up of robust young reds.

Seppelt Drumborg Pinot Noir 2013
Seppelt Drumborg vineyard, Henty, Victoria

The very cool Drumborg vineyard, located near the southwestern Victorian coast, struggled for decades after Karl Seppelt established it in 1964. From the early 1980s, Seppelt renovated and extended the vineyard. In 1986 and the mid nineties they added extensively to the original pinot plantings of 1966 and 1968. In the early 2000s, Emma Wood succeeded Ian McKenzie as winemaker, and in 2012 she passed the baton, via Adam Wadewitz, to Adam Carnaby. In the warm and sunny 2013 season, Carnaby made this idiosyncratic, exciting pinot: low in alcohol (12.5 per cent); vivid but pale in colour; then layered and strong in aroma and flavour. Delicate fruit sits in a matrix with spicy, savoury and stalky characters and firm, fine tannins. It should evolve in bottle for ten years or more.

Stella Bella Tempranillo 2013
Margaret River, Western Australia

Spanish red variety, tempranillo, finds a number of expressions in Australia, from full and fleshy to lean and tannic. Climate largely determines the style, though winemaking approach also contributes. Stella Bella sits toward the lighter, tighter end of the style spectrum, influenced by both of these factors. The bright, limpid colour points to the medium body confirmed in a fresh, taut palate that combines fruity and savoury elements. Fine tannins sweep across the palate giving bite to the dry finish.

Wilson Watervale Riesling 2015
Watervale, southern Clare Valley, South Australia

Wilson Watervale riesling won a gold medal the 2015 Royal Melbourne Wine Show. The judges were perhaps attracted by its bold and powerful style – a contrast to the often delicate, lime-like rieslings from this Clare Valley sub-region. However, the Wilsons say they sought vineyards “offering the most powerful aromatic wines”. Their preference shows in this highly aromatic white, with its full, intense flavour and delicious lemony dryness.

Penfolds Max’s Shiraz and Max’s Shiraz Cabernet 2013
Multi-region, South Australia
Shortly after launching its $450 The Max Schubert Cabernet Shiraz 2012, Penfolds released two reds under a new Max’s label. Like the more expensive wine, the new releases exploit the legacy of Grange creator, the late Max Schubert. Whether the new wines attract customers or simply confuse us all remains to be seen. The shiraz offers vibrant, full varietal fruit flavour in typically tannic but approachable Penfolds style. The blend does likewise, with the added grip of cabernet sauvignon. These are good, sturdy wines, but fully priced in the current market, even when discounted to $28.50.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2015
First published 17 and 18 November 2015 in  and the Canberra Times