Wine review – Jim Barry, Hentley Farm, Tahbilk, Mount Trio, Xanadu

Jim Barry Watervale Riesling 2016 – wine of the week
Florita vineyard, Watervale, Clare Valley, South Australia

The first of the 2016 wines reviewed here comes from the Barry family’s historic Florita vineyard at Watervale, the Clare Valley’s southernmost sub-region. The late Jim Barry bought Florita from Lindemans in 1986. It had been source of many great, long-lived Lindemans and Leo Buring rieslings made by John Vickery from the 1960s. The new wine shows remarkable floral and citrus-like perfume – characters reflected on a fruity, brisk and thrilling dry palate. A modest outlay gives you a lot of drinking pleasure.

Hentley Farm The Stray Mongrel Red 2014
Hentley Farm vineyard, Seppeltsfield, Barossa Valley, South Australia


The Stray Mongrel combines two traditional Barossa red varieties, grenache and shiraz, with zinfandel. The stray in the pack is an early ripening, dark and tannic variety, originally from Croatia (where the oldest of its several names is tribidrag) but better known as Puglia’s primitivo or California’s zinfandel. The wine packs a lot of flavour and character, revealing the lively fruit and aroma of grenache, richness of shiraz and the distinctive grippy, drying tannins of the zinfandel. It’s quirky variation on a traditional Barossa theme.

Hentley Farm The Old Legend Grenache 2015
Hentley Farm vineyard, Seppeltsfield, Barossa Valley, South Australia

Whether in France’s Chateauneuf-du-Pape or the Barossa Valley, grenache generally finds itself blended with other varieties, notably shiraz and mourvedre. On its own it tends to give a strong confection-like character reminiscent of bubble gum. But we now see a number of excellent straight grenaches, including Hentley Farm’s, made by Andrew Quinn. Owner Keith Hentschke believes earlier picking, and a 60–90 maceration of the wine on skins, dumbs down the fruit a little. The result is a bright red wine, harmonising fruit with savoury, spicy and earthy characters. A backbone of fine tannins gives a satisfying grip to the finish.

Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Tahbilk vineyard, Nagambie Lakes, Victoria

Tahbilk’s long-lived, medium bodied cabernet comes with a mother load of sturdy, grippy tannins that permeate the underlying fruit flavours. Though the sweetness of the underlying minty- and blackcurrant-like varietal flavours offsets the tannin, it remains a wine to tame with age or by serving with high-protein food. Pink, juicy lamb, for example, will strip away the tannin and expose the really lovely fruit at its heart. It offers exceptional quality for the price and has a proven ability to evolve deliciously over many years given cool, stable cellaring conditions.

Mount Trio Pinot Noir 2014
Mount Trio vineyard, Porongurup, Western Australia

The Porongurups Range is a granite knob rising from the landscape about half an hour’s drive north of Albany, Western Australia. In the late 19980s, husband and wife Gavin Berry and Gill Graham and partners planted vines there, some of the first in this particularly cool part of the vast Great Southern region. The couple’s pinot captures much of the aromatic, flavour and textural charm of the variety. Delicious, sweet fruit, a touch of savour, and a backbone of fine tannin lift this above many pinots in this price range.

Xanadu Stevens Road Chardonnay
Xanadu Stevens Road vineyard, Margaret River, Western Australia
Xanadu, the western arm of Rathbone Wine Group, makes several excellent chardonnays, ranging in price from the $14.40–$18 Next of Kin, through the $29.60–$37 Xanadu, to the $56–$70 Reserve and Stevens Road wines. Stevens Road comes from the best rows in a vineyard of that name. Quality is further refined by using only the best barrels in the final blend. Mouth watering and juicy, with dazzling acid cutting through grapefruit- and nectarine-like varietal flavours, it’s a wine to revel in now, though bottle age may add new layers to it.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2016
First published 17 and 18 May 2016 in the Canberra Times and ct app