Drinking the Clare Valley-based 2013 O’Leary Walker Polish Hill River Riesling is always a pleasure as it’s my favourite white wine style. Green straw in colour, the nose has orange blossom, lime and minerally notes. The palate has mouth-watering citrus fruits and mineral flavours. A dry, crisp finish will see this wine cellar well for the next 10–15 years. Now that’s quality at an affordable price (rrp $20).
The Zema family established its vineyards in the Coonawarra in 1982. It is one of the few family operations that still tenderly hand-prune vines, with all hands on deck during the winter months to carry out the work. Cabernet sauvignon is the principal red variety in the Coonawarra, and the 2010 Zema Estate Cabernet Sauvignon shows a deep purple colour with a violet rim. The nose offers cassis, violets and plum while the fruit on the palate is richly textured, showing concentrated dark berry fruits with a hint of mint. The oak has softened out the wine’s tannins and the full-bodied finish is in harmony with the other principal characters that make up this wine (rrp $29).
Its stablemate, the 2009 Zema Estate Shiraz, is garnet red with a ruby hue around the rim. The bouquet is awash with mulberry spice and nicely integrated French oak adding vanilla flavours and complexity. The full-bodied finish of ripe tannins, balanced acidity and fruit intensity is definitely a crowd-pleaser and invites another bow to shiraz, which shines in the Coonawarra (rrp $25).
The 2012 Tyrrell’s Lost Block Cabernet Sauvignon has a perfumed bouquet while the palate is soft and silky with nicely integrated tannins. The dark berry fruit on palate is made up of plum, blackberry and ripe blackcurrant flavours while the finish is dry with lingering ripe fruit (rrp $18).
Is chardonnay making a comeback? Not a chardonnay fan myself, I could always come back to this style when I taste quality, as in the 2012 Printhie Mountain Range Chardonnay. A vibrant golden-yellow wine, the palate is crisp with firm acidity denoting cool climate in style. The concentration of fruit on the palate consists of white peach, apricots and citrus flavours in abundance with little oak evident. A dry finish, pristine in flavour (rrp $20).
Cowra is noted for chardonnay and sauvignon blanc and it’s where I cut my teeth, judging at the Cowra Wine Show from 2000–2001. Here I offer you the 2013 The Mill Sauvignon Blanc — zesty, grassy flavours are what come to mind while dipping your nose into the glass. The herbaceous, citrusy lime and passionfruit flavours come to the fore on the palate, matched by crisp, dry racy acidity on the finish (rrp $18).
What’s in a name? Well, according to Bill Calabria of Calabria Family Wines (formerly Westend Estate), seemingly everything. The Riverina-based Calabria family originally from Italy, settled in the Riverina in 1945. The Three Bridges Range is at the top of their wine portfolio and their 2012 Westend Estate 3 Bridges Durif is deep purple in colour with a lovely pink hue. The bouquet offers spicy, liquorice and dark berry fruit aromas with subtle French oak adding hints of vanilla. The fruit on the palate is rich and dense with mulberry, earthy plum and blackberry fruits. The full-bodied finish has lovely oak integration with firm tannins and acidity adding to the wine’s structure. The fruit on the finish is immense and the wine is well balanced (rrp $25).
Also from the same family comes the 2011 Westend Estate 3 Bridges Botrytis Semillon, a style for which the region is world-famous. The amber colour gives way to an aromatic nose itching of apricots, limes and spicy marmalade. The palate offers an abundance of fruits such as peach, apricots and pineapple flavours. The wine has depth of flavour and is nicely textured without being cloying. A firm, dry finish (rrp $25 for 375ml). This wine was selected a couple of years back for Business Class on Virgin Australia International to rave reviews.
Berton Vineyards in the Riverina is producing very good wines at enviable prices. The 2013 Berton Vineyards Metal Range Black Shiraz is deep purple with an abundance of dark berry on the nose. The palate is soft and silky with mulberry, blackberry plum and vanilla spice. A full-bodied wine with a lingering, fruit-driven dry finish (rrp $12).
Jim McMahon teaches hospitality at Sutherland TAFE.