Wine reviews – Joseph Chromy, Lustau and Stella Bella

Joseph Chromy Tasmanian Cuvee NV $25.50–$30
Czech-born Josef Chromy built a fortune in meat before investing in (and disposing of) various sizeable Tasmanian wineries. The latest venture, at Relbia, a short drive southeast of Launceston, includes 60-hectares of vines, a winery, restaurant and functions centre. Chromy’s non-vintage blend demonstrates, deliciously, why Tassie became the centre for Australia’s top-shelf sparklers. Cool-grown pinot noir (two thirds of the blend) and chardonnay give a great depth of flavour  to this dry, delicate wine. Eighteen months maturation on spent yeast cells added depth and structure to the wine, but the fruit flavours remain at the centre.

Lustau Pedro Ximenez San Emilio Very Sweet Sherry 375ml $27.55–$30
What better company for a plush Debbie Skelton dessert than a mellow sweetie from Xerez, Spain? The makers sun dry their pedro ximenez grapes and allow the super sweet juice to ferment briefly. They arrest the ferment, add spirit to the still very sweet juice and move it to American oak casks in a “solera” system – a progressive ageing process that takes in young wine at one end and pushes out mature stuff at the other. The mature wine offers sensational raisin-like sweetness and dried-fruit flavours, with the ethereal texture and patina of aged characters derived from oak maturation.

Stella Bella Skuttlebutt Margaret River Cabernet Shiraz 2013 $18
Stella Bella, one of Margaret River’s larger producers, makes wines under the Stella Bella, Serie Luminosa, Suckfizzle and Skuttlebutt labels. Like so many other high quality makers of any scale, Stella Bella’s lower priced wines benefit from the considerable effort put into the top wines. You can enjoy the $30-odd Margaret River cabernet, knowing it’s in the mould of the flagship $75 Serie Luminosa cabernet. And the drink-now, $18 Skuttlebutt cabernet shiraz brings true Margaret River cabernet flavours and elegant structure, fleshed out pleasantly with the addition of shiraz and a splash of merlot.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2015
First published 29 and 30 August 2015 in and the Canberra Times