Wine review – Bay of Fires, Pikes, Seppelt, Moppity, Tscharke, Kirrihill

Bay of Fires Riesling 2015
Derwent and Coal River Valleys, Tasmania
The Bay of Fires winery at Pipers River, northern Tasmania, sources grapes for this wine from the Derwent and Coal River Valleys to the south. In a masked tasting alongside the other two rieslings reviewed today, it revealed a unique combination of Germanic apple-like and Australia floral aromas. The gloriously fresh, vivacious palate mirrored the aroma. Intense but delicate acid accentuated the fruit flavours and a small amount of residual sugar harmonised perfectly with the acidity.

Pikes Clare Valley The Merle Riesling 2015
Gill Farm and Hill blocks, Pike Vineyard, Polish Hill River, Clare Valley, South Australia
Clare Valley veteran Neil Pike produces a number of Clare Valley rieslings, led by his flagship, The Merle. Pike sourced the 2015 vintage from the Gill’s Farm and Hill blocks within the family’s vineyard in the cool Clare sub-region, Polish Hill River. Alongside two rieslings from significantly cooler sites (Henty, Victoria, and southern Tasmania), Pike’s normally austere young wine showed appealing floral and lime-like aroma and a comparatively gentle, rounded, delicious palate of great finesse and length.

Seppelt Drumborg Riesling 2015
Drumborg Vineyard, Henty, Victoria
In 1964, well ahead of Australia’s table wine boom, Karl Seppelt planted grapes at chilly Drumborg, southern Victoria. The vineyard produces excellent pinot noir, chardonnay as well as rieslings of great subtlety and finesse. We lined the 2015 up in a masked tasting beside Bay of Fires Tasmania 2015 and Pikes Merle Polish Hill 2015. What a beautiful, albeit varied, lineup it proved to be. Drumborg showed lean, taut acidity with delicate but intense fruit pushing through a finely textured palate. A little kiss of residual sugar perfectly balanced the high acidity. This is one to enjoy every year or two over its potentially very long cellaring life.

Moppity Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Moppity vineyards, Hilltops, NSW

Being slightly warmer than Canberra, the Hilltops region makes slightly fuller, rounder styles of shiraz and fleshier, riper styles of cabernet sauvignon. After a lot of hard work in the vineyard, cabernet is now emerging as a standout variety for Moppity Park’s Jason and Alecia Brown. Their 2014, winner of a trophy and seven gold medals, offers ripe red-currant-like varietal aroma, overlaid with a sweet and spicy oak character. The ripe fruit flavours flow through to a fleshy, medium-bodied palate, cut with fine, firm cabernet and oak tannins.

Tscharke Matching Socks Touriga 2014
Barossa Valley, South Australia

Sixth generation Barossa vigneron, Damien Tscharke, operates a unique cellar door in the Barossa’s Marananga sub-region. Tscharke and his German wife, Eva, imported pre-cut timber from Germany then assembled the building, comprising cellar door, mezzanine pottery gallery (Eva makes the pots on site), four-metre underground cellar and bed and breakfast facility. Tscharke makes traditional Barossa styles but also works with less well-known varieties, including savagnin, montepulciano and this pretty red, made from the port variety, touriga nacional. It’s a rich, soft red with flavours reminiscent of summer berries and Christmas cake – a wine to serve lightly chilled all summer long.

Kirrihill Regional Range Riesling 2015
Clare Valley, South Australia

From the three the top-shelf rieslings reviewed here today, all of gold-medal standard and built for long cellaring, we come to a more affordable, drink-now version. Sourced from a number of vineyards across the Clare Valley, it presents a fuller, rounder side of Clare riesling, with the regional thumbprint of vibrant, citrusy varietal flavour and refreshing dry finish. The winemaking focuses entirely on capturing riesling’s aromas and flavour with no discernible winemaker add-ons.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2016
First published 19 and 20 January 2016 in and the Canberra Times