Wine review – Pipers Brook, Bremerton, Golden Ball, Mount Horrocks, Cross Stitch and Mad Fish

Pipers Brook Riesling 2014 $34
Pipers Brook vineyard, Tasmania
Tasmania may well become Australia’s premier riesling-growing region, upstaging the variety’s traditional heartland of the Clare and Eden Valleys, South Australia. OK, let’s include comparative newcomers, Canberra District and Great Southern, Western Australia, too. For Tasmania, the question remains whether the whole island gets in on the act, or if the stars emerge from north, south or the east coast. Tasmanian veteran, Pipers Brook stakes its claim with this full-flavoured but delicate, high-acid riesling. Ironically, it weighs in with higher alcohol (13 per cent) than many of its warm-climate peers on the mainland. The alcohol contributes to the full flavour, but can’t push its head through the racy, citrusy flavours and comparatively austere acidity. Should age well for many years.

Bremerton Special Release Malbec 2013 $24
Bremerton vineyard, Langhorne Creek, South Australia
Langhorne Creek’s broad-acre vineyards contrast with the scattered, smaller plots seen in regions like the Canberra district. The Willson family’s 117-hectare Bremerton vineyard, while sizeable for a private holding, looks small compared to other holdings in the district, including Pernod-Ricard’s 300-plus hectare site, a major source for Jacob’s Creek wines. Sisters Lucy and Rebecca Willson make and market Bremerton wine from the family property but also sell fruit to other winemakers. The sisters’ special release malbec 2013, a blend from favoured barrels, offers the fragrant, plummy richness of the variety, complete with firm but rounded tannins and the spicy effect of maturation in Hungarian oak. It’s available at

Golden Ball Shiraz 2012 $50–$55
Golden Ball Vineyard, Beechworth, Victoria
James and Janine McLaurin’s elegant, intensely savoury, highly distinctive shiraz sits comfortably within our preconceptions of Beechworth wine. Since Rick Kinzbrunner (Giaconda Wines) set the standard decades ago, the region proved an irresistible magnet for others with near fanatic perfectionism. And perfectionism has its price – based on low volumes and high production costs. The market generally supports Beechworth’s high prices. And in silky, savoury, more-ish wines like Golden Ball Shiraz 2013 you’ll find no argument from me. Limited distribution and sales, including at

Mount Horrocks Shiraz 2013  $34–$40
Mount Horrocks vineyard, Watervale, South Australia
Stephanie Toole’s 2013 shiraz tastes slightly fuller and juicier than the lovely 2012 reviewed last year. It provides an interesting contrast to the Golden Ball 2012 reviewed today – and demonstrates the great diversity of styles now being made in Australia. Toole’s wine shimmers with bright, ripe fruit character, but there’s much more to it. The fruit comes deeply layered with soft tannins and a slick, chewy mid-palate, enriched by maturation in good quality oak barrels. It’s a generous warm-climate shiraz without that sits joyously on the palate.

Cross Stitch Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 $15
McLaren Vale and Coonawarra, South Australia
Some of Australia’s greatest reds have been blends of the Bordeaux variety, cabernet sauvignon, and Rhone Valley variety, shiraz. No one did it better than Grange creator, Max Schubert, with his fabulous, long-lived combinations of Barossa shiraz with Coonawarra cabernet. The practice continues today. In Cross Stitch, Angove’s winemakers effectively combine shiraz from McLaren Vale with cabernet from Coonawarra. The medium bodied wine shimmers with fresh fruit flavours, cut with the cabernet’s fine, firm tannins. While shiraz gives generosity, cabernet makes the wine leaner and tighter. It’s a pleasing style at a good price

Mad Fish Premium White 2014 $13.30–$18
Margaret River, Great Southern and Geographe, Western Australia

Behind the vague “premium white” name lurks a decent dry white, made entirely from chardonnay grown in the south west of Western Australia. The wine shows the bright, fresh, citrus-like flavours of chardonnay fermented in stainless steel, rather than oak barrels. An exotic note of passionfruit adds even more appeal to this rich, vibrant, all-purpose dry white. Affordable unoaked chardonnay has come along under the winemakers at Burch Family Wines, owners of Mad Fish, Howard Park, and Marchand and Burch.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2015
First published 10 June 2015 in the Canberra Times and