Wine review – Vintner’s Daughter, Logan, Tahbilk, Bodegas Catena Zapata and Mauro Vannucci Pietranera

The Vintner’s Daughter Riesling 2015
Vintner’s Daughter vineyard, Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW
In September 2014, Ken Helm’s daughter Stephanie Helm and husband Ben Osborne bought Yass Valley winery and vineyards at Murrumbateman. The couple’s first riesling, from the excellent 2015 vintage, showed its class a few months later when it won the trophy as best riesling of the 2015 Winewise Small Vignerons Awards. It’s an auspicious start for the new Vintner’s Daughter brand. It’s an absolutely delicious riesling, delivering pure, varietal, floral and citrus flavours, cut through with shimmering, fresh acidity. A small amount of residual grape sugar rounds and softens the palate, but it remains fine, delicate, dry and suited to medium-term cellaring.

The Vintner’s Daughter Gewurztraminer 2015
Vintner’s Daughter vineyard, Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW


The pink-berried gewürztraminer grape is one of several clonal mutations of the very old savagnin vine. It produces distinctly different wine from the other variants, though they have the same genetic fingerprint. Savagnin blanc, for example, makes savoury, taut, dry whites. In contrast, gewürztraminer produces highly aromatic whites with distinctive musk- and lychee-like characters and, quite often, a viscous texture. Stephanie Helm and husband Ben Osborne’s version revels in gewürztraminer’s aromatic qualities, in a very clean and pure but not overwhelming style. The dry palate reflects the aroma and is supported by zippy, fresh acidity.

Logan Shiraz 2013
Orange, NSW

The altitude of Orange’s vineyards ranges from 600metres to around 1100 metres, meaning the region suits many grape varieties. Shiraz works well in the lower, warmer sites. But even so, these are cool conditions for the variety and the wines, as Peter Logan’s demonstrates, are spicy and medium bodied rather than burly and bold as they can be in warmer areas. The warm 2013 season gave Logan a particularly juicy, sweet mid palate which, combined with its soft tannins, means easy and delightful drinking now.

Tahbilk Roussanne Marsanne Viognier 2014
Tahbilk vineyard, Nagambie Lakes, Victoria

Australia’s marsanne specialist still uses fruit from vines planted in 1927, though the variety was first planted on the property in the 1860s. Recent plantings of marsanne’s Rhone Valley companions, roussanne and viognier, now join it in a three-way blend, led by oak-aged roussanne, which makes up 46 per cent of the blend. The combination yields a full-bodied, richly textured, savoury dry white with an appealing bite to the finish – a characterful white, well removed from our usual fare. The three-way blend seems the way to go with these varieties: marsanne and, even more so, viognier, can be too much on their own; while fairly neutral roussanne has the ability to subdue its raucous Rhone Valley mates.

Bodegas Catena Zapata “Alamos” Malbec 2014
Mendoza, Argentina

Watch out Aussie shiraz. Generous, fruity Argentinian malbec provides comparable drink-now appeal, on its own or with food. We discovered Alamos Malbec 2014 on a cool spring afternoon at Hopscotch Bar, Braddon. The wine’s deep colour, vibrant, fruity perfume and flavour, and soft tannins provided joyous drinking for a niece’s thirtieth birthday. The wine, made by the Catena family, comes from high-altitude vineyards in the Andes. Malbec comprises 85 per cent of the blend, with 10 per bonarda and five per cent shiraz. What Argentina calls ‘bonarda’ is, in fact, douce noire, a red variety of France’s Savoie region. It’s Argentina’s second most widely planted red variety after malbec.

Mauro Vannucci Pietranera Toscana 2011
Carmignano, Tuscany, Italy
Like cool water, lapping rough, rocky walls, this Tuscan sangiovese’s sweet fruit flavours slap against rustic, mouth-gripping tannins. Deep, savoury flavours and assertive tannins counter every appearance of the fruit, creating a nevertheless harmonious red wine of two distinct parts – fruity and savoury. The rustic, savoury characters set it apart from the fruit-sweet wines we generally make in Australia. And those savoury characters suited the food of Italian and Sons, where we encountered it. The wine comes from Carmignano, to the west of Florence. It’s available by the glass at Italian and Sons or through the Melbourne importer at

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2015
First published 6 and 7 October in and the Canberra Times