Wine reviews – Farr, Majella, Domaine Chandon, Pizzini, John Duval and Gaelic Cemetery

Sangreal By Farr Pinot Noir 2013
Farr Sangreal vineyard, Bannockburn, Geelong, Victoria
Pinots from Gary Farr, and son Nick, always excite and unfailingly rate among the top few Australian pinots tasted each year. In the warm, dry 2013 season, Sangreal, my favourite of the Farr’s pinots, offers particularly generous, juicy, seductive fruit flavours. But there’s much more than fruit to this amazingly aromatic wine, including layers of interweaving flavours and textures derived from stems, fruit, skins and maturation in new oak barrels. Discernible as the individual flavours and aromas might be, no single component dominates. Rather, they meld into one utterly delicious, moreish, definitively pinot whole. Include Sangreal 2013 on your Christmas wish list.

Majella Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Majella vineyard, Coonawarra, South Australia

One of Australia’s most loved regional–varietal combinations shows it class in the just-released Majella 2013. From the Lynn family’s vineyard on the eastern side of Coonawarra, the wine shows the ripe, plush, seductive fruit flavours of the warm, dry vintage. For all its richness, however, Majella retains its crystal-clear, cassis-like, varietal flavour, with a distinctive touch of mint, also characteristic of Coonawarra and the variety. Firm, fine tannins – derived from both fruit and oak – support an outstanding cabernet with proven ability to evolve well for many, many years.

Domaine Chandon Chardonnay 2014
Yarra Valley, Victoria

Winemaker Dan Buckle writes, “We have expanded our interest in sulphides and wild yeast. It’s great when the yields are really low, we can push the style a little harder knowing we have good fruit concentration”. Roughly interpreted, that means a wine made from very richly flavoured grapes can handle a high level of winemaker-induced flavours. In this instance, Buckle allowed the wine to ferment spontaneously, that is, without the addition of cultured yeasts. The wild yeasts, living and dead, gave rich texture and low-level “struck match” character (sulphides) to a vibrant, elegant chardonnay in which the varietal grapefruit- and -nectarine-like fruit flavours remain central.

Pizzini Nona Gisella Sangiovese 2013
Pizzini vineyard, King Valley, Victoria
Winemaker Joel Pizzini now produces a number of different sangioveses, expressing variations of site, clone and winemaking approach. Nona Gisella is a medium-bodied red, revealing the inherent flavour of sangiovese, low in overt winemaker inputs, such as oak. Unique, bitter-cherry varietal flavours come packaged up with firm, savoury tannins, which give the wine more kick than the pale colour suggests. The savouriness, reminiscent of black olives, and tannic bite make the wine well suited to high-protein food, especially grilled or roasted red meats.

John Duval Plexus Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre 2013
Tanunda, Ebenezer, Krondorf, and Light Pass, Barossa Valley, South Australia
John Duval’s latest Plexus provides a rich, characterful and refined expression of the Barossa’s classic combination of shiraz, grenache and mourvedre. Shiraz (54 per cent) leads the blend, giving it great richness and depth of fruit flavour; grenache (32 per cent) contributes perfume, spice and softness; and mourvedre contributes quite firm tannins. This year’s release seems fuller and riper than the 2012, with quite a firm finish from the mourvedre.

Gaelic Cemetery Celtic Farm Riesling 2014
Gaelic Cemetery vineyard, Clare Valley, South Australia
Gaelic Cemetery wines is a joint venture involving well-known Clare Valley vignerons, Andrew and Neil Pike, Grant Arnold, and Mario and Ben Barletta. Neil Pike makes the wine, while Grant Arnold owns the Gaelic Cemetery vineyard, five kilometres north of Clare township. Pike produces two wines under the label, Gaelic Cemetery Premium, a more austere, potentially long-lived riesling; and the drink-now Celtic Farm. Typical of 2014, the wine is highly aromatic, with full, round, lemon- and lime-like varietal flavour and dazzling fresh acidity.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2015
First published 7 and 8 July 2015 in and the Canberra Times