Coppabella "The Crest" Chardonnay 2012
Coppabella vineyard, Tumbarumba, NSW
Jason and Alecia Brown own the 68-hectare Moppity vineyard in the Hilltops region and the 70-hectare Coppabella vineyard at Tumbarumba. They now match the exceptional quality of their Moppity reds with three beautiful chardonnays from the higher, cooler Coppabella vineyard. Just as he did when launching the reds a few years back, Jason Brown hopes to attract retail support, and drinkers, for the whites through low everyday pricing. Certainly "The Crest" offers jaw-dropping quality for $20 to $25 a bottle. This is genuine cool-climate chardonnay, with grapefruit-like varietal flavour and the thrilling acidity that gives the wine elegance, freshness and great length of flavour.
Fighting Gully Road Sangiovese 2012
Aquila Audax vineyard, Beechworth, Victoria
Mount Majura's Frank van de Loo snuck this Beechworth wine into a recent masked tasting of sangioveses from the Canberra region. The ring-in won the night in my scorebook and received high ratings from most of the vignerons present. It comes from a vineyard planted in 1997 and offers the unique sour cherry aromas and flavours of very good sangiovese. The medium-bodied, harmonious palate is cut with fine tannins that give length to the finish.
Ravensworth Le Querce Sangiovese 2013
Murrumbateman and Hall, Canberra District, NSW
This was my top-scoring Canberra wine in a recent masked tasting of 39 sangioveses. Maker Bryan Martin says 2013 is, "the first with a good proportion of [the much favoured] Brunello clones". The wine comes from three Canberra vineyards, including Martin's own at Murrumbateman. It offers the medium body and lovely, underlying cherry-like flavour of the variety. There's great depth to the fruit this year, and it's seasoned with pleasing herbal and savoury characters. Although the fine tannins give quite a drying tweak to the finish, they're rounded and smooth and add deliciously to the savouriness of the wine.
Capital Wines The Foreign Minister Sangiovese 2013
Hall and Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW
Early this month, Canberra vignerons held a masked tasting of 39 sangioveses – 27 from Canberra, one from Beechworth, Victoria, and 11 from Tuscany, Italy. The Canberra group included vintages back to 2003. The 2010s showed strongly, and the current-release 2013s offered a very high average quality, with a couple of rippers – notably Ravensworth and Capital Wines. Both were gold-medal contenders in my scoresheet. The Capital Wines sangiovese appealed for its bright, fresh, cherry-like varietal aroma and flavour, medium body and fine, ripe tannins that washed in over the fruit flavours, giving a juicy backbone to a most enjoyable wine.
Lark Hill Sangiovese 2013
Dark Horse vineyard, Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW
Lark Hill sangiovese split the room at the recent tasting of Canberra district sangiovese. Some loved the wine, while others, including me, could not initially get past the slight but distracting pong of hydrogen sulphide – a natural byproduct of anaerobic winemaking. The Carpenter family made the wine entirely in stainless-steel tanks, foregoing aerobic maturation in oak barrels. The process captured the juicy, fruity richness and savouriness of the grape. A little aeration dispersed the pong, leaving the pure joy of the grape in a medium-bodied, buoyant, drink-now red of great charm.
Pikes "Traditionele" Riesling 2014
Polish Hill, Watervale and Sevenhill, Clare Valley, South Australia
Hot weather early this year threatened to bake Clare Valley's riesling crop. But rain arrived on February 14. To say it "saved the vintage is an understatement", writes winemaker Neil Pike. "It gave the vines a much-needed boost of moisture and delayed ripening into the cooler months of March and April. What might have been a disaster became instead a triumph, producing "elegant, pure flavours, lowish alcohol levels and excellent natural acids", writes Pike. His aromatic "Traditionele" riesling appeals for its pure citrus flavour, juicy and rich but delicate palate and zesty, refreshing acidity. The big flavour belies the wine's modest 11 per cent alcohol content.