Wine review – Parker Coonawarra Estate, Yalumba Galway, Giant Steps, Curly Flat, Scuttlebutt and Wagner Steeple

Parker Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
North-western Coonawarra, South Australia
Our wine of the week earned its place for sheer flavour, value and fidelity to the Coonawarra regional style. The winery now belongs to WD Wines, an energetic business that also owns the Hesketh and St John’s Road brands. Jonathon Hesketh and Phil Lehmann, drive the businesses – Hesketh in charge of marketing and Lehmann making wine. In the excellent 2013 vintage, Lehmann captured the ripe, full flavours of the cabernet grape, complete with the mid-palate flesh that can be missing in cooler years. His approach for this wine, made to meet a particular retail price, emphasises Coonawarra’s cassis-like varietal flavours (OK, there’s a touch of mint), with sufficient tannin to give true cabernet structure and authority. This is a lot of wine for the price.

Yalumba Galway Vintage Shiraz 2013
Barossa Valley, South Australia


Yalumba Galway “Claret” once counted among Australia’s great reds, built for the cellar. It raised important eyebrows, including the only ones that counted in 1965, when, at an Adelaide lunch, Prime Minister Bob Menzies declared the 1961 vintage to be, “the finest Australian red I have ever tasted”. But time, markets and marketing diluted the Galway name. Today it stands in the crowded drink-now segment, offering generous and loveable – if not eyebrow-raising – quality. Galway 2013 delivers the appealing flavours of Barossa shiraz – ripe and generous fruit, with soft, easy tannins.

Giant Steps Tarraford Vineyard Chardonnay 2014
Tarraford vineyard, Yarra Valley, Victoria

Pulp Kitchen on a cold Saturday night, and the rich, earthy food calls for, and gets, equivalent wines: a taut, elegant, savoury 2007 pinot noir from the great Burgundy vineyard, Clos de la Roche, made by the highly regarded Olivier Bernstein. However, we begin with an outstanding Australian chardonnay, inspired by Burgundy’s originals. From a cooler Yarra sub-region, it reveals all the brightness and intensity of modern Australian chardonnay, boosted by the delicious inputs of barrel fermentation and maturation.

Curly Flat Pinot Noir 2013
Curly Flat vineyard, Macedon Ranges, Victoria

Curly Flat’s pinots invariably rate well on release and develop nicely with bottle age, and little wonder given Phillip Moraghan’s attention to detail in the vineyard and winery. Tasted alongside the leaner, savoury, maturing, richly textured 2011, the new 2013 appeared ripe, fruity and soft. But with air and patience over a few days of tasting, the wine’s deeper, savoury flavours emerged, along with the silky texture and substantial tannins essential in top-shelf pinots. Right now, the 2011 provides more satisfying, mature drinking, but the 2013 has great potential, which it should begin to reveal in as little as one year.

Skuttlebutt Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2015
Margaret River, Western Australia

The back label gushes fruity descriptors: citrus zest, passionfruit, gooseberry, ripe melon and ripe peach flesh, with a sting of “savoury nettles” thrown in. On the other hand, we can settle for “very fruity”, because it is, with the unbeatable freshness of a young wine, barely away from the bosom of mother vine. Suck it down joyously now. You can never get closer to the freshly fermented grape than this.

Wagner Stempel Riesling Trocken Gutswein 2014
Siefersheim, West Rheinhessen, Germany
Winemaker Daniel Wagner writes, “There is no doubt this is a vintage of very high quality, which, however, could only be brought in at the cost of tremendous losses through selection”. Wagner’s comment if anything understates his attention to detail in the vineyards, which ultimately produces such racy, delicate, deeply flavoured rieslings. Though full bodied for riesling, Wagner’s 2014 remains delicate, with apple-like flavours, cut through with thrilling acidity. The combination of intense flavour, finesse and high acidity suggest good cellaring prospects – if you can resist the urge to drink it now.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2015
First published 1 and 2 September 2015 in and the Canberra Times