Chris Shanahan wine reviews, December 10

Chris Shanahan

Lerida Estate Shiraz Viognier 2013
Lerida Estate vineyard, Lake George, Canberra District, NSW
$49.50
Four-and-a-half-star/96

Lerida Estate led an impressive Canberra District performance in the 2013 shiraz class at the 2014 National Wine Show of Australia. Eight of the 64 wines in the class came from Canberra. Six of the eight wines won medals. And Canberra wines won three of the seven gold medals awarded – one gold each to Nick O'Leary Bolaro Shiraz 2013, Collector Reserve Shiraz 2013 and Lerida Estate Shiraz Viognier 2013. Judges rated Lerida as top wine of the class. And it went on to win the Chair of Judges' trophy. Clearly it tickled chairman Jim Chatto's fancy. A slow-evolving style, it offers bright, red-berry fruit, seasoned with typical Canberra spice, with underlying savoury characters and quite tight, though fine, tannins. Owner Jim Lumbers expects to release the wine mid 2015. Put this one on your wish list.

Tyrrell's Rufus Stone Shiraz 2012
Tyrrell vineyard, Heathcote, Victoria
$19-$22
Three-and-a-half-star/90

In a recent shiraz tasting, Rufus Stone 2012 appealed for its lovely fruit and sheer, juicy drinkability. Reds from Heathcote tend to be medium bodied and loaded with savoury tannin. But, perhaps as a result of the cooler season, Tyrrell's 2012 shows less of that savoury character which, in turn, allows the supple, bright fruit to flourish. Tyrrell's grow fruit for the wine on their 26-hectare vineyard at Heathcote, Victoria, and truck it to the Hunter Winery, where it's fermented, matured, blended and bottled.

Freeman Dolcino 2013
Freeman vineyards, Hilltops region, NSW
$35 500ml
Four-star/94

Brian Freeman's luscious and lovely Dolcino won the trophy as best sweet wine at the 2014 Winewise Small Vignerons Awards. Freeman made the wine from viognier grapes harvested at very high sugar levels (42 per cent of the berry weight, he says) fermented by wild yeasts in a combination of old and new oak barrels. The intensely luscious result shows viognier's distinctive dried-apricot and ginger-like flavours, subtle overlaid with orange-peel/marmalade character derived from the presence of noble rot (botrytis cinerea) on about half of the harvest. Despite its lusciousness, the wine remains delicate, with a high level of acidity balancing the sweetness. It would be wonderful with a stinky, ripe blue cheese.

d'Arenberg The Dry Dam Riesling 2014
McLaren Vale, South Australia
$16-$18
Four-star/92

At the 2014 National Wine Show, the Dry Dam Riesling 2014 won a gold medal and the Best Value White Wine trophy. And to prove its provenance (and keeping ability) the 2008 vintage won a silver medal and 2010 vintage a bronze. The success demonstrates yet again the outstanding drinking, and value, offered by Australian dry rieslings. The 2014 offers floral and citrus varietal aromas and flavours on a full but delicate palate.

Xanadu DJL Chardonnay 2013
Margaret River, Western Australia
$24
Four-star/94

Xanadu won gold medals for four of its chardonnays at the National Wine Show of Australia, plus a trophy for its flagship Stevens Road Chardonnay 2012. DJL Chardonnay 2013's national gold followed similar success at the 2014 Perth Royal Wine Show. The wine – named for Xanadu founder, Dr John Lagan – comes from several vineyards in Margaret River's Wallcliffe and Karridale sub-regions. DJL delivers flavour-packed refreshment in the sophisticated modern Australian chardonnay style: brilliant, pale lemon colour; medium bodied; fresh stonefruit and citrus-like varietal flavour; subtle textural and flavour influences from oak fermentation and maturation.

Houghton Crofters Shiraz 2013
Frankland River, Western Australia
$16-$18
Four-star/92

Crofters won a gold medal in the same National Wine Show shiraz class topped by today's wine of the week, Lerida Estate Shiraz Viognier 2013. Just half a point out of 60 (55.5 versus 56) separated the two wines. The quality gap, however, is greater than that slim margin suggests – highlighting what a "bumpkin calculus" wine scores can be. If the Houghton wine lacks the finesse of the Lerida, it offers – at one-third the price – pure drinking pleasure with its sweet, perfumed aroma, vibrant palate and fairly solid, savoury tannins, typical of Frankland River.

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