Wine reviews – Tim Adams, Tyrrell’s, Torbreck, Moss Wood, Sassafras

Tim Adams Reserve Riesling 2010
Clare Valley, South Australia

Tim Adams’ brisk, sometimes searingly acidic rieslings benefit from bottle age. His currently available reserve bottling, now six years old, retains a razor-sharp edge of acidity that accentuates its intense, yet delicate, lemon- and lime-like varietal flavours. Bottle age has also added smooth texture and subtle honeyed notes to a delicious wine with years, perhaps decades, of flavour development ahead of it.

Tyrrell’s Lost Block Merlot 2014
Limestone Coast, South Australia

Tyrrell’s Lost Block range offers enjoyable drinking – and quite often retailer discounts – across the range. Each comes from a region well suited to a variety, in this instance merlot from the Limestone Coast – that vast area of cool, coastal south Australia stretching from the Coorong in the north to Mount Gambier in the south. The medium bodied wine combines bright fruit flavours with earthy–savoury notes and a satisfying bite of fine, drying tannins.

Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz 2014
Northwestern Barossa Valley, South Australia


Woodcutter’s shows the richness and smoothness that comes from attention to detail in the vineyard and winery. Ripe, but not over-ripe, shiraz gives the wine its mouth-filling richness. And the natural quality of the fruit – combined with varied fermentation and oak-maturation techniques – provide mellow, smooth, soft tannins that perfect the generous, warm, satisfying drinking sensation. More please.

Moss Wood Amy’s Cabernet Merlot Petit Verdot Malbec 2014
Margaret River, Western Australia

Could there be a juicier, more seductive cabernet blend? I doubt it. Moss Wood puts a friendly, smiling face on what can be an austere blend. Led by cabernet sauvignon, Amy’s beguiles with its joyous, sweet, berry-laden aroma. The fleshy, deep palate reflects this vibrant fruitiness. However, serious, grippy tannins wash through the fleshy fruit, giving structure, length and a satisfying finish – completely in harmony with the overwhelmingly fruity character of the wine.

Sassafras Fiano 2015
Ricca Terra Farms, Barmera, Riverland, South Australia

Fiano 2015 accompanied two other new releases from Paul Starr and Tammy Brook’s tiny, Canberra-based Sassafras label: the lightly sparkling Canberra District Savagnin Ancestral 2015 (reviewed last week) and Sassafras Canberra District Sagrantino 2013, a rustic red with the eye-popping tannins associated with this Italian variety. The lovely white comprises Southern Italy’s fiano and a splash of Canberra-grown savagnin. It’s a highly distinctive, full-bodied dry style that’s at once savoury, leesy, and slippery smooth textured.

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2006
Avize, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oger, Cramant and Chouilly, Champagne, France
Being in the right place at the right time – and a handful of hastily collected cash – put three vintages of Comtes de Champagne on our palate in quick succession. The sublime and powerful 2005, enjoyed at Penfolds Magill Estate, rates as our most memorable wine of 2015. The equally sublime, if more subtle and elegant, 2002 graced a Chateau Shanahan tasting in November: 10 of us shared the $280 buying price from Jim Murphy Airport Cellars. Then in early January, the importer, McWilliams Wines, provided a taste of the 2006 – a beautiful wine, sitting in body between the 2002 and 2005, with a unique combination of delicacy, richness and backbone, derived from prolonged ageing on yeast lees. The all-chardonnay blend comes from some of the best vineyards on the Cotes des Blancs, south of the Marne River.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2016
First published 2 March 2016 in the Canberra Times