Wine reviews – Hahndorf Hill, Twelve Signs, Parker Coonawarra Estate, Mount Langi Ghiran, Mitchell, McWilliams

Hahndorf Hill Winery “Gru” Gruner Veltliner 2015
Hahndorf Hill vineyard, Adelaide Hills, South Australia

Hahndorf Hill owners Larry Jacobs and Marc Dobson identified a fit between Austria’s late-ripening gruner veltliner and their elevated, continental-climate vineyard site in the Adelaide Hills. In Austria, they write, “vignerons all place huge emphasis on one crucial quality-defining factor – significant diurnal variation… the combination of good ripening days and cold nights that allows for an extended growing season… coaxing out its famously pure flavours and aromatics”. Jacobs and Dobson now have a run of successful gruner’s behind them. The latest, and most impressive to date, offers mouth-watering melon-rind and citrus-like flavours on a richly textured palate with a distinctive grippy, bone-dry, slightly peppery finish.

Twelve Signs Cabernet Merlot 2014
Moppity vineyard, Hilltops, NSW

The Hilltops region makes ripe, soft, medium-bodied reds with great drink-now appeal. Even at this modest price, Twelve Signs, from Moppity vineyards, captures the sweet-berry flavours of cabernet, the fragrance of merlot and the fine but strong tannins that distinguish good cabernet-merlot blends from softer varieties like shiraz or pinot noir.

Parker Terra Rossa Merlot 2013
Terry section, Parker’s Abbey vineyard, Coonawarra, South Australia

Perhaps because so much misidentified cabernet franc once appeared as “merlot”, merlot gained a reputation for being light and soft. But merlot, an offspring of cabernet franc, shares with its half sibling cabernet sauvignon, feisty, firm tannins. Grown in the right conditions, merlot shows beautiful fragrance and, under its considerable tannin load, most delightful fruit flavour. Parkers is unquestionably one of the best examples in Australia, showing a particularly concentrated but elegant face of the variety.

Mount Langi Ghiran Cliff Edge Shiraz 2014
Mount Langhi Ghiran vineyard, Grampians, Victoria
Winemaker Ben Haines whets our appetite for the latest Cliff Edge Shiraz, writing, “The 2014 vintage was warm to mild with lower than average yields. Fruit was small and flavours were intense, highly concentrated and well defined. In their vibrant your, these wine already display finesse and balance. The shiraz [is] taut and firmly structured”. The deep crimson-rimmed colour, fruity–spicy perfume and sweet, concentrated fruit flavours all gel with the winemaker’s notes. It’s medium bodied, packs a huge load of juicy, spicy fruit flavours, all layered with fine, savoury tannins.

Mitchell Riesling 2015
Mitchell vineyard, Watervale, Clare Valley, South Australia

Jane and Andrew Mitchell offer a unique riesling from dry-grown vines planted in 1960. Andrew says, “This is our ‘natural’ wine”, fermented spontaneously to complete dryness with ambient yeasts and with no acid adjustment – a rare achievement in the warm Clare Valley. The spontaneous ferment, and six months’ maturation on spent yeast cells, mutes some of riesling’s aromatic high notes while leaving the intense, citrusy varietal flavour intact. The process also adds a deliciously rich texture to the wine. In 2015 this resulted in a full but fine, chewy textured riesling with racy lime-like flavour and acidity and bone-dry, ultra fresh finish.

McWilliams Appellation Series Chardonnay 2014
Tumbarumba, NSW
From the planting of the first vineyard in 1982, Tumbarumba has always been mainly about pinot noir and chardonnay – originally for sparkling wine, and later for table wines, too. From this cool climate, the chardonnays tend to be lean and acidic, but with sufficient fruit flavour to make this a positive attribute. Barrel ferment the wine, as Bryan Currie does for McWilliams, and introduce a little flesh to the palate and subtle flavours to season the underlying grapefruit- and nectarine-like varietal flavour. The acidity carries these flavours and contributes to the ultra fresh, dry finish.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2016
First published 9 and 10 February 2016 in and the Canberra Times