Wine reviews – Rabl, Andrew Thomas, La La Land, Freeman, Seppelt, Bremerton

Rabl Gruner Veltliner Spiegel 2013
Spiegel vineyard, Kamptal, Austria
Rabl gruner veltliner brightens a short wine list at Canberra’s Akiba restaurant. Its shimmering fruit–acid harmony matches the vitality of the restaurant’s food, but doesn’t compete with it. The flavours, reminiscent of lime and green apple with a unique spicy, peppery note, carry through even the spiciest dishes. Beautiful, fresh acidity accentuates the fruit flavours and gives a clean, dry finish. Gruner veltliner – also known as gruner, G-V or gru-vee – now appears in several cooler Australian regions, including Tasmania, the Adelaide Hills and Canberra. Rudi Rabl’s comes from Austria’s Kamptal region, centred on the town of Langenlois, on the Kamp River, a Danube tributary.

Andrew Thomas Kiss Shiraz 2014
Pokolbin Estate vineyard, Pokolbin, Lower Hunter Valley, NSW


Winemaker Andrew Thomas writes, “Just as I’ve completed my thirtieth consecutive Hunter Valley vintage, I’m about to release probably the best range of shiraz that I’ve made in all of my time up here”. Leading Thomas’s range – priced between $25 and $75 a bottle and due for release on 7 May – is his flagship Kiss shiraz. From low-yielding old vines, this is concentrated Hunter shiraz, intensely flavoured and cut through with firm tannin. There’s a spicy note from the oak and, despite the wine’s power, it remains medium bodied in the regional style. It deserves medium to long-term cellaring.

La La Land Tempranillo 2015
Murray-Darling, Victoria

Along with Azahara, Deakin Estate and Coonawarra’s Katnook Estate, La La Land is a brand of the Wingara Wine Group, owned by Spain’s Freixenet. Tempranillo, grown along the hot expanses of the Murray-Darling region, yields a medium bodied red of bright fruit flavours, cut through with rustic tannins and an undercurrent of resiny oak.

Freeman Dolcino 2015
Freeman vineyard, Hilltops, NSW

$25 500ml
Winemaker Brian Freeman chides Australians for restricting, “The pouring of dessert wines till the end of the meal – usually already heavily weighted to sugary treats”. Instead, he suggests serving stickies with savoury entrees, such as blue-mould cheese or duck liver pate. Amen to that, possibly with Freeman’s sinfully luscious Dolcino, made from late-harvest, botrytis infected viognier grapes.

Seppelt Jaluka Chardonnay 2015
Henty, Victoria

Jaluka chardonnay comes from the Henty region, near Portland in Victoria’s far south west. The southerly location, cooled further by ocean breezes, produces fine-boned chardonnay, with intense, grapefruit-like varietal flavour, indicative of the cool climate. Fermentation and maturation in a combination of new and older oak added to the wine’s texture and injected complimentary nutty flavours. Although the flavours are generous, bracing acidity gives the wine a lively and refreshing character.

Bremerton Special Release Malbec 2014
Bremerton vineyard, Langhorne Creek, South Australia
Sisters Lucy and Rebecca Willson use malbec in red blends, but they also keep special barrels aside for their mouth-watering straight varietal. A vivid, fruity-floral aroma suggests a wine of mouth-filling richness. And indeed the ripe, fruit-laden palate shows typical Langhorne Creek generosity. However, malbec carries a decent load of tannin. So, after the initial fruity impression, tannins roll across the palate, blending with the fruit and giving a firm but fine grip to the dry finish.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2016
First published 20 April 2016 in the Canberra Times