Curly Flat Williams Crossing Macedon Pinot Noir 2014 $27.90–$30
You can buy good shiraz from around $10 a bottle. And there’s lots of it. But the real pinot noir experience comes at a higher price. The best Australian versions come from cool growing regions: on the south-eastern tip of the mainland, from high-altitudes, and Tasmania. A favourite, Curly Flat, comes from the high, cool Macedon ranges near Melbourne. You can pay around $50 for the company’s flagship pinot. But Williams Crossing, a blend from barrels not suited to the flagship style, provides a satisfying pinot experience. The 2014 offers ripe, juicy varietal flavour with underlying savouriness and a silky satisfying texture.
Freeman “Secco” Rondinella Corvina 2011 $35
For the adventurous or well-travelled palate, Brian Freeman’s Secco offers an Australian take on the idiosyncratic “Amarone” wines of Italy’s Valpolicella region. He says the late-ripening rondinella and corvina grapes “were still green during the nerve-wracking downpours” of the disastrously wet, cold 2011 vintage. They ripened in more benign conditions “three months after the other varieties…from almost leafless vines, clean and ready for the neighbour’s prune dehydrating shed”. Use of partially raisened grapes give the wine exotic prune- and fruit-cake-like flavours on an intensely savoury palate with firm, mouth-puckering tannins.
Kirrihill Regional Range Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2015 $10.90–$13
Chardonnay remains Australia’s biggest volume white wine. Our vignerons crushed 376 thousand tonnes of it in 2015 – more than four times the 89 thousand tonnes of sauvignon blanc they processed. However, Australians consume far more sauvignon blanc than they do chardonnay, largely through the runaway success of imports from Marlborough, New Zealand. While Australia can never hope to out-sauvignon Marlborough, we now make an extraordinary range of chardonnays to equal the world’s best. At a very modest price, Kirrihill shows a rich, juicy, fruity side of the variety. Smooth textured and full of vitality it brims with unoaked nectarine-like varietal flavours.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2016
First published 28 February 2016 in the Canberra Times