Wine review – Andrew Thomas, Sandalford, Oakridge

Andrew Thomas Déjà Vu Hunter Valley Shiraz 2014 $30
Hunter winemakers rate the warm, dry 2014 vintage as one of the best in living memory – some compare it to the now legendary 1965 season. Andrew Thomas reckons it’s the best of his 30 vintages in the area. The season produced notably fuller bodied wines than usual, but they still smell and taste like earthy, medium-bodied Hunter shiraz. Thomas tightens up Déjà Vu by co-fermenting shiraz with a splash of semillon verjuice. The wine leads with bright, ripe fruit aromas. But the semillon makes its presence felt in the taut, finely grippy structure that restrains the delicious underlying fruit flavour.

Sandalford Margaret River Cabernet Merlot 2014 $16.15–$20
Sandalford, one of the west’s largest privately owned wine companies, makes red wines at a range of prices, starting with the $8 Element label, and finishing with the superb $90 Prendiville Cabernet Sauvignon. Between these two, Sandalford Margaret River cabernet merlot blend enjoys the trickle-down effect we see in large wineries with outstanding top-end wines and significant vineyard resources. The brilliantly coloured wine shows the distinctive, appealing, berry-and-cedar aroma of Margaret River cabernet-merlot blends and remarkably juicy, sweet mid palate. Firm tannins cut through the lovely fruit in textbook cabernet style.

Oakridge Over the Shoulder Yarra Valley Pinot Grigio 2015 $18.10–$23
Highly aromatic varieties like riesling yield lovely fruit flavours with nothing more than a protective, cool ferment, followed by early, hygienic bottling. With these wines, we taste the stark and naked beauty of the grape. Pinot gris, on the other hand, requires a winemaker’s help. David Bicknell’s new release weaves the variety’s apple-pear-spice flavours in with complementary, funky flavours and a rich texture, derived from deliberate winemaking techniques. Spontaneous fermentation, partly in old oak barrels, and nine-months maturation on spent yeast cells, give this delicious wine a dimension that goes well beyond naked fruit.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2016
First published 16 and 17 April 2016 in  and the Canberra Times