It’s not all Shiraz—Cabernet, Chardonnay and Riesling get their time to shine as well
September 12, 2019
By MaryAnn Worobiec
Here’s an exciting group of Australian wines that showcase the geographical diversity and range of styles that the country is known for—with price tags that make it easy to explore.
McLaren Vale makes a strong showing here. I’ve always admired the polished and fresh fruit flavors this region’s reds are known for, with plenty of spicy blueberry and red berry flavors. The First Drop Mother’s Ruin Cabernet is a wonderful example of what McLaren Vale can do: juicy, accessible fruit flavors at the core, with plenty of style. Owners Matt Gant and John Retsas make terrific wines with whimsical labels. “Mother’s Ruin” was a nickname for gin when it was abused in the 1700s in England; the label (pictured below) shows the subsequent debauchery of the era.
Also from McLaren Vale is d’Arenberg‘s The Stump Jump Chardonnay, a crisp version with only a hint of old French oak barrels used. Winemaker Chester Osborn is perhaps best known for his dense and boldly tannic red wines, but I find plenty of charm to the white wines in his portfolio, which tend to be aromatic and refreshing.
I wish there were more wines from Coonawarra imported to the U.S., like the Penley Phoenix bottling. The Cabernets grown in the unique red-hued terra rossa soils of Coonawara are intense and often have a distinctive green herbal note that I love—here, it manifests as sage and thyme.
92 pts Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Riesling 2018
Mouthwatering, offering a mix of mandarin orange, ruby grapefruit and peach notes, with lip-smacking acidity. Details of minerality and lanolin take this white to the next level, and all the flavors sing on the long finish.
87 pts d’Arenberg The Stump Jump Lightly Wooded Chardonnay 2018
Pear, apple and citrus flavors are fresh and light, with a touch of almond skin on the crisp finish.
87 pts Penley Estate Phoenix Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
Firm, dusty tannins provide an appealing framework for black cherry, currant and red licorice flavors, with a thread of juicy acidity and details of sage and thyme that linger in the background.