Wine review – Ross Hill, Chrismont, Tolpuddle, Forester Estate, Torbreck and Mad Fish

Ross Hill Pinnacle Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Ross Hill Griffin Road vineyard, Orange, NSW

From 1994, the Robson family planted their Griffin Road, Orange, vineyard at elevations varying from 750 to 850 metres. In 2008, the family added another five hectares at 1018 metres, near their Wallace Road winery. In the benign 2013 vintage, five years after winemaker Phil Kerney arrived, The Ridge, a section of the lower, warmer Griffin vineyard, produced evenly ripened cabernet of a quality rarely seen in the district. Kerney successfully nurtured the fruit through the winery and ultimately to bottle under the company’s Pinnacle label. A deep, vividly coloured wine, Pinnacle shows equally vivid, ripe berry flavours in a deep, sweet palate cut through with cabernet’s assertive, ripe tannins. This is powerful, harmonious and elegant cabernet that might be enjoyed now with protein rich food. However, its best lies in the years ahead.

Chrismont La Zona Prosecco NV
King Valley, Victoria


In 2007 Arnie and Jo Pizzini planted the Italian white variety, prosecco, in their vineyard at Cheshunt, in Victoria’s King Valley. With it they emulate the light, delicate dry sparkling wines made with the variety in north-eastern Italy. La Zona starts as a still table wine matured on yeast lees for a few months before being blended with components from earlier vintages then undergoing a secondary fermentation in steel tanks. It’s a unique, good-fun style – pale, comparatively low in alcohol, at 11.5 per cent, and with a light, delicious, pleasant, intensely tart, dry palate.

Tolpuddle Pinot Noir 2013
Tolpuddle vineyard, Coal River Valley, Tasmania

In May, Tolpuddle vineyard, owners Michael Hill Smith and Martin Shaw, celebrated a huge success at London’s International Wine Challenge. Tolpuddle 2013, just the second pinot from vineyard in Tasmania’s Coal River Valley, won trophies as best Tasmanian pinot, best Australian pinot and best Australian red – of any variety. Smith and Shaw sell the majority of their fruit to other winemakers, but make small quantities of pinot noir and chardonnay for their Tolpuddle label. Pure, primary fruit flavours push through the wine’s fine, smooth tannins, but savouriness and complexity give extra dimension to the first class pinot so loved by the London judges.

Forester Estate Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Yallingup, Margaret River, Western Australia

Forester Estate take Margaret River’s regional white blend to a high level of flavour intensity and purity. Distinctive snow-pea-like characters, with a citrus-like tang, define this two-variety blend in Margaret River. And Forester Estate’s screams from the glass, leaving drinkers in no doubt what they’re about to encounter. The style can sometimes be a little skinny on the palate, but this one gives a plush and juicy feeling. And then the zippy acid carries the snow-pea flavour on to a long, refreshing finish.

Torbreck The Struie Shiraz
Barossa and Eden Valleys, South Australia

Torbreck creator David Powell departed the scene a couple of years ago after a public and bitter split with Torbreck’s American owner, Peter Kight. However, Torbreck and its winemaking remain intact, producing extraordinary reds like The Struie. It combines elegant, refined shiraz from the higher, cooler Eden Valley with fuller, riper shiraz from the warmer Barossa. The wine hits the palate with sweet, stock-like concentration – a chewy, slinky amalgam of ripe but spicy shiraz, soft tannin and mocha-like flavours from high-quality oak, which also adds a slight bitterness to the aftertaste.

Mad Fish Premium Red Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2013
Margaret River, Great Southern and Geographe, Western Australia
The Burch family’s budget red blend comprises mostly cabernet sauvignon (54 per cent) and merlot (35 per cent) with a gloop each of cabernet franc, sangiovese, shiraz and petit verdot. Cabernets and the related merlot give the wine its distinctive berry and tomato-leaf characters and lean, taut palate. And sangiovese probably adds to the grippy tannins, though it’s hard to discern what the shiraz contributes. Overall, it’s a high quality, good value cabernet blend. Watch for the retailer discounts, as they tend to lop around $5 a bottle off the recommended price.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2015
First published 23 and 24 June 2015 in and the Canberra Times