Tolpuddle Pinot Noir 2013
Tolpuddle vineyard, Coal River Valley, Tasmania
In 2011, Adelaide-Hills-based Shaw and Smith bought the mature 20-hectare Tolpuddle vineyard,n Tasmania's Coal RiverValley. The new owners sell the majority of their fruit to other winemakers, but make small quantities of pinot noir and chardonnay for the new Tolpuddle label. In two recent tastings, the inaugural 2012 vintage appealed for its beautiful, juicy, pure varietal flavour and fine, velvety tannins. The just-released 2013 shows similar fruit flavours, albeit a little less fleshy at this stage. Pure, primary fruit flavours push through the fine, smooth tannins, but there's savouriness and complexity here giving the wine the extra dimension of a first-class pinot.
Langmeil Shiraz 2013
Barossa Valley, South Australia
In 1996, Richard Lindner, Carl Lindner and Chris Bitter established Langmeil winery on the western edge of Tanunda, on the site of the former village of Langmeil. It boasts a small planting of venerable old vines, planted by Christian Auricht in the 1840s. The partners make a wine, The Freedom 1843 Shiraz, from these old vines. However, the main game is making rich, ripe reds from across the Barossa Valley floor. In the excellent 2012 vintage Valley Floor shiraz delivers particularly vibrant, intense, blackberry-like fruit flavours, held by typically soft and tender Barossa tannins.
Bourke Street Chardonnay 2011
Canberra District, NSW
Local winemakers Nick O'Leary (Nick O'Leary Wines) and Alex McKay (Collector Wines) jointly make the Bourke Street range, including this impressive chardonnay. Their website offers the fuller bodied 2010 vintage, but a friend brought the 2011 vintage along to a recent dinner in Moruya. The cold vintage shows in the wine's comparatively low alcohol (12.5 per cent) and racy, grapefruit-like varietal flavour and acidity. Bottle age now adds body, and the usual barrel-related winemaking tricks season the wine with a touch of butterscotch and the struck-match character of sulphides at a very low but detectible level.
Pikes Eastside Shiraz 2012
Polish Hill River, Clare Valley, South Australia
Polish Hill River, a comparatively cool sub-region of South Australia's Clare Valley, is perhaps best known for its intense, steely, long-lived rieslings. However, Pikes Eastside shiraz proves the region's worth as a producer of full-bodied shiraz, too. The 2012 vintage appealed strongly in a recent tasting with its ripe fruit flavours and spicy, savoury character. Firm but rounded tannins give the wine the satisfying finish of a real red.
Four Winds Vineyard Riesling 2014
Four Winds vineyard, Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW
Whether or not Canberra's 2014 rieslings live up to the 2012s and 2013s remains to be seen. But they are very good indeed. Several, including Four Winds, would be extremely unlucky not to win gold medals at coming wine shows. The wine is impressively aromatic and purely varietal. The intensity of its flavour belies the mere 11.2 per cent alcohol. However, there's a sting in the tail: while high acidity accentuates the flavour it also lends some austerity to the palate. This is quite in character for Canberra riesling and is easily resolved by giving the wine another 6-12 months in bottle. (Since writing this review, the wine has won a gold medal and ranked in the top three 2014 rieslings of the Melbourne show).
Hay Shed Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Willyabrup, Margaret River, Western Australia
This week's toss-up for "wine of the week" favoured the new Tasmanian wine over the older, well-established Western Australian. Mike Kerrigan's wine reveals the glory of cabernet sauvignon in an exceptional Margaret River vintage. As rain and fungal disease ravished eastern Australian vineyards, the west enjoyed a warm, dry season culminating in the beautifully ripe, varietal berry flavours displayed in Hayshed Hill. An elegant wine, it shows deep, sweet flavours, firmly but gently held by cabernet's authoritative tannins.