Yes, we might be heading into the warmer months, but these drops are worthy of a spot on your wine list, year-round. By Christine Salins
Treasury Wine Estates is a global company with wineries in key Australian and New Zealand regions, so when it holds a tasting to show-off reds from across its portfolio, you know it’s going to be a mixed bag of styles, flavours and prices.
And so it was when winemakers from the company’s brands were asked to select a couple of wines each for a Regional Winter Reds tasting. What follows is a pared down selection of the wines they chose, with no particular thread other than that they are all fine reds worthy of a place on any wine list.
1. Seppelt 2012 Original Sparkling Shiraz, $26.99.
Although there are no precise records, Seppelt was probably experimenting with sparkling reds as far back as the 1890s. This incredible record is not lost on winemaker Adam Carnaby, who aims to harness the strengths of each viticultural region he draws on.
Most of the fruit for this sparkling wine is from the Grampians, which Carnaby says produces “medium-bodied fleshy styles”. There’s also some fruit from Bendigo and Heathcote, adding lovely spicy notes.
2. Abels Tempest 2013 Pinot Noir, $31.99.
Tasmanian Pinot is enjoying a stellar role on many restaurant lists and this Heemskerk wine certainly deserves to be amongst them. It’s vibrant and flavoursome with cherry and red berry notes, and subtle, toasty oak.
Winemaker Peter Munro says Tasmania is a very exciting up and coming region for Pinot, with fruit from the Coal River Valley providing structure and fruit from the Derwent Valley providing plushness and richness.
From 2014 on, this wine will be from White Hills fruit, after Treasury’s purchase of the acclaimed White Hills vineyard from Brown Brothers.
3. Matua 2013 Lands & Legends Central Otago Pinot Noir, $29.99.
Across the Tasman, Matua is one of the largest Pinot producers in Central Otago. Winemaker Nikolai St George says the 2013 vintage was a little warmer than usual, producing a bigger, riper style that is elegant and brooding.
The fruit for this wine is sourced from two sub-regions. The Bannockburn fruit, in particular, “shone every time we looked at it. You don’t have to do anything to it in the winery.”
4. Coldstream Hills 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir, $84.99.
Pinot has a remarkable ability to adapt to the warmer seasons of the Yarra Valley, according to winemaker Andrew Fleming, who says they also rely on viticultural techniques to produce the best fruit they can. Yet they don’t produce a Reserve every year, indeed Fleming has made only seven in 14 years. When they do, it has to be exceptional, like this one. “It has to have that velvety texture we’re looking for, that silkiness,” he says.
5. Coldstream Hills 2013 Reserve Shiraz, $44.99.
Yarra Valley Shiraz is typically medium-bodied and this is a particularly delicious example, silky and concentrated with seamless French oak. It has interesting nuances such as olive, chocolate, five-spice and star anise, and although it is already drinking beautifully, it will keep for a long time yet.
6. Seppelt 2013 Chalambar Shiraz, $26.99.
You can’t have flagship wines without taking care of the bread and butter, and as far as bread and butter goes, this Victorian (mostly Grampians) wine speaks consistency, quality and value. Seppelt Chalambar is celebrating its 60th anniversary release with this vintage, a bright, aromatic wine that winemaker Adam Carnaby says could be cellared for 15 years or more.
7. Saltram 2012 No 1 Shiraz, $99.99.
At this price, you’d hope it would be good, and it is. Amazingly, Saltram has had only nine winemakers in its 160-year history, so winemaker Shavaughn Wells has big shoes to fill but she does it well. She has fond memories of the 2012 Barossa vintage, a cooler harvest that followed wonderful rainfall in 2011. “I’d never walked into a vineyard where it was ‘let’s leave it (the fruit) a few days’. It was just lovely.”
8. St Huberts 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, $34.99.
Although St Huberts’ early trophy successes were with Cabernet, it can be hard to get right in the Yarra Valley, where the climate according to winemaker Greg Jarratt is halfway between Bordeaux and Burgundy. But both 2012 and 2013 were “cracker vintages”, producing a medium-bodied wine with typically leafy undertones and great depth of flavour. “You’ve got your luncheon claret which is Yarra Valley and then you have your dinner red which is Coonawarra.”
9. Wynns 2012 Childs Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, $79.99.
Wynns winemaker, Sue Hodder, is chuffed at Jarratt’s analogy. “Coonawarra is probably more similar to the Yarra Valley than other South Australian regions we talk about. These (Coonawarra wines) are medium-bodied wines, not big fruity, punchy wines.”
This is the first time Wynns has selected the Childs Vineyard for its single vineyard label. “We love the purity of the fruit from the Childs Vineyard. Each year is so expressive; it’s never big and heavy.”
10. Saltram Mr Pickwick’s NV Tawny, $74.99.
Falling into the ‘rare’ category, the oldest of the four tawny categories, Mr Pickwick’s is produced by a solera system with an average age of 20-plus years. It consists mostly of Shiraz and Grenache from more than 35 vintages, at least one of them older than 50 years. Soft and nutty, elegant and complex, it has a lingering finish, making it the perfect conclusion for a fine meal and a fine tasting.