Wine reviews – Coldstream Hills, Penfolds, Tahbilk, De Bortoli, Tyrrell’s

Coldstream Hills Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2014
Yarra Valley, Victoria

Nothing focuses the mind on a pinot like a good example of it. Three times over a period of over 20 years Coldstream Hills Reserve Pinot Noir 1992 did this: on its release in the early 90s, at a 2011 tasting hosted in Bernkastel, Germany, by winemaker Ernie Loosen, and in November 2015 at Coldstream’s thirtieth anniversary tasting, chaired by founder James Halliday. Halliday handed over winemaking to Andrew Fleming and Greg Jarratt in 2001. The pair displayed their new vintages alongside Halliday’s oldies at the tasting. The latest Reserves sit with the best of the variety in Australia. And the Amphitheatre 2013 ($150) is surely one of our most remarkable. But even the entry-level wine, combining fruit from the upper and lower Yarra, is a chip off the bigger, more expensive blocks. The supple wine starts with vibrant ripe-berry varietal flavours on a medium-bodied palate, with tang and savour derived from whole-bunch ferment and juicy, silky texture.

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Chardonnay 2014
South Australia
Penfolds chardonnay is produced in a combination of stainless steel tanks and oak barrels. The tank-fermented component preserves fresh peach- and melon-like varietal flavours; and the barrel component gives a smooth, creamy texture, a touch of spice and nut an exotic yeast-derived “funky” note. It’s a very fresh yet sophisticated chardonnay at the price, and a very good example of using multi-region grape sourcing to make high quality, affordable wine.

Tahbilk Marsanne 2015
Tahbilk, Nagambie Lakes, Victoria
The Purbrick family’s beautiful Tahbilk property sits on an anabranch of Victoria’s Goulburn River. The property holds one of the world’s oldest and largest plantings of marsanne, a Rhone Valley white variety. The oldest vines, planted in 1927, make a separate, higher priced wine. While marsanne tends to be viscous and a little tough on the palate, Alister Purbrick fine-tuned the winemaking approach to maintain varietal character but reduce the viscosity and firmness. The result is a richly textured wine with pleasantly tart, savoury citrus-like flavours on a bone-dry palate.

De Bortoli Windy Peak Shiraz 2014
Heathcote, Victoria
Windy Peak provides a drink-now side of Heathcote shiraz. The region in general produces deep, dark, savoury shiraz. But de Bortoli tames the beast by presenting more of the ripe, juicy, red-berry varietal flavours, with less grunt and savour. Fine, drying tannins and a savoury undercurrent add interest to a lovely red made for immediate drinking pleasure.

Tyrrell’s Rufus Stone Shiraz
Heathcote, Victoria

Tyrrell’s provides a full-bore, albeit highly polished version of Heathcote shiraz. The very deep colour and vivid crimson rim point to the wine’s power – an impression confirmed by the intense, black-cherry-like aroma and big, juicy, mouth-filling flavour. While the wine’s big, it’s also harmonious and layered with fruit- and oak-derived tannins. The oak also injects spicy and vanilla-like characters that compliment the cherry-like flavours, solid tannins and background savouriness.

Holm Oak Riesling 2015
Holm Oak and Lipoto Springs vineyards, Tamar Valley, Tasmania
Who can argue when winemaker Rebecca Duffy spruiks the virtues of Tasmanian riesling and oysters. Their unique crackling acidity seasons the briny tang of oysters as surely as a squeeze of lime or lemon juice. The steely acidity also accentuates a varietal flavour reminiscent of lime and tart green apples. Indeed the acid is the structure that holds the wine together and also suggests good cellaring ability.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2016
First published 12 and 13 January 2016 in and the Canberra Times