Wine review – Stella Bella, Mitolo, Chateau Les Maurins, Angullong, Shaw and Smith

Stella Bella Serie Luminosa Chardonnay 2012
Forest Grove and Gnarawary Road vineyards, Margaret River, Western Australia

Stella Bella’s flagship chardonnay momentarily upstaged a memorable lunch at Canberra’s Chairman and Yip restaurant. Even the Chairman’s signature pungent, chewy, savoury, salted squid couldn’t detract our attention form the wine’s shimmering beauty. This is modern Australia chardonnay at its most luscious, irresistible best. We could strip it down to the component flavours and textures of fruit, barrel-fermentation, malo-lactic fermentation (conversion of austere malic acid to soft lactic acid), maturation on spent yeast cells and a couple of years’ bottle age But these elements all sing together, led by Margaret River’s dazzling fresh, fleshy fruit and completed by the rich, fine texture.

Stella Bella Chardonnay 2012
Margaret River, Western Australia


At about half the price, Stella Bella chardonnay provides much of the drinking thrill of its $65 cellar mate, Serie Luminosa. Like the flagship wine, it’s fermented and matured in high quality French oak barrels and bottle aged for a couple of years before release. And the wine delivers Margaret River’s fleshy, refined fruit flavours, seasoned by all of those winemaking inputs. It provides great sensual pleasure, if not the attention-grabbing intensity, elegance and sheer beauty of the flagship.

Mitolo Angela Shiraz 2013
Sandra’s block, Willunga, McLaren Vale, SA

There’s nothing flashy about Canberra’s Civic Pub. But it’s a comfy watering hole, serving fresh, simple food and fairly priced wine to accompany it. On a cold winter’s day a rare sirloin, with crisp, steamed string beans, a couple of spuds and tangy pepper sauce, paired deliciously with Mitolo Angela Shiraz. What simple pleasure: hot, fresh food and a warming, ripe, fruity­ red, with the savour and soft tannins typical of McLaren Vale. Two blokes, one bottle and happy smiles.

Chateau Les Maurins 2013
Entre-deux-Mers, Bordeaux, France
For the first time since the 2010 vintage, this Aldi import landed on the Chateau Shanahan tasting bench. From the region between Bordeaux’s Dordogne and Garonne rivers, the wine offers a ripe fruity aroma, somewhat surprisingly for this cool area. On the palate, powerful, mouth-puckering tannins swamp the fruit, giving a very grippy, dry finish. The style may not please palates used to softer, fruitier Australian reds. But it has its place, preferably with red meats as the protein softens the tannins.

Angullong Fossil Hill Sangiovese 2013
Angullong vineyard, Orange, NSW
Sangiovese, the principle grape of Italy’s Chianti zone, tends to make medium bodied, savoury reds with a notable tannic grip. Fossil Hill Sangiovese, from Orange, NSW, has a light to medium hue and a savoury aroma – reminiscent of tobacco – with a touch of cherry-like fruit. The palate reflects the aroma precisely, combining savour and fresh fruit in a wine of medium body, with fine, firm tannins giving a food-friendly tweak to the finish.

Shaw and Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Just as Cloudy Bay paved the way for other sauvignon blancs from Marlborough, New Zealand, Shaw and Smith set the pace for Australian styles. And every year, owner Michael Hill-Smith presents the new vintage, fresh from the vine, at a series of Australia-wide lunches. Perhaps there are better drinks than sauvignon on a miserably cold, wet Canberra day. But dozens of trade dutifully attended this year’s launch. Eyeing the reds to follow, we succumbed to the new sauvignon’s charms. It really is as good as the variety gets in Australia, seducing with its dazzling fresh, passionfruit-like juiciness.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2015
First published 28 and 29 July 2015 in  and the Canberra Times