Current Issue #488

Wine Reviews: Stefano Lubiana, Brash Higgins and Longview

Wine Reviews: Stefano Lubiana, Brash Higgins and Longview

We are covering a few bases this month. A fantastic Chardonnay from Tassie because we all need more Chardy in our lives. Then two South Australian reds – one a light, delicate beauty, the other a big, bold powerhouse. There’s something for everyone.

Stefano Lubiana
2014 Collina Chardonnay
RRP $100

I know we’re in the depths of winter but that doesn’t mean we have to decrease our intake of Chardonnay, right? Tasmanian wine is so hot right now and deserving of our scrutiny.

Stefano Lubiana’s Collina Chardonnay is only released in the finest vintages and the grapes are sourced from the ancient 200-million-old-gravel/silt soils of the family-owned vineyard at Granton, 20 kilometres north of Hobart. It’s certified organic and they farm according to biodynamic principles, which will always get a thumbs up from me.

There has been a bit of a viticultural gold rush in Tasmania, with many mainland wine companies slipping in under the cover of darkness to try to snaffle some land for their vines. Many of Australia’s top Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines now hail from the Apple Isle, and the Collina Chardonnay effortlessly slips into that upper echelon of fine Chardonnay.

I remember judging at the first James Halliday Chardonnay Challenge in the Yarra Valley about five years ago and the great man came down to give us a pep talk and make sure we didn’t bugger it up as we limbered up to attack 700-odd Chardies. Fruit purity, clarity, detail and drive were the ideals that were drummed into our noggins that morning and the Collina delivers all of that in spades. Plenty of oatmealy, struck-matchy complexity too, if that is your thing. And that is my thing. It’s an absolute ripper.

Brash Higgins
2018 CINS Cinsault
RRP $37

In recent years I’ve been seeing a few more straight Cinsault wines appearing on boozatorium shelves. This is a very good thing indeed as Cinsault is cracking drinking and was, in the past, often blended away into obscurity without being given its opportunity to shine. Grab the mic, son … you’re on!

It’s a grape variety that is widely planted in southern France and Corsica. In recent times there have been some great examples coming out of South Africa, where it is one of the parents of their famous Pinotage grape. And on tasting this wee wine, we seem pretty damn good at growing and making it as well.

It’s quite a perfumed variety. If there was a hypothetical collision between … say …. Grenache and Pinot Noir, and everything got all smushed up and yummy, I reckon it would be pretty close to what Cinsault smells and tastes like.

There is a liminal note of whole-bunchiness in the air as you thrust your schnozz into the glass. An amaro-herbish allure that floats over the pure, fragrant red fruits like a Chagall bride. Abundant exotic spice too with pressed, dried flower notes and a hint of red licorice.

It’s got the loveliest weight on the palate. All spacious and airy with gorgeous spicy red fruits, bright acidity and a savoury twist to its hips. Light and thoroughly captivating drinking and a wine that will see you all through winter and will be just as good chilled in the warmer months.

2016 ‘The Piece’ Shiraz
RRP $90

This one appeals to the juvenile delinquent in me, a diamond-hard strand of dodginess that doesn’t seem to diminish while the old flesh around it slowly declines with age. I’m going to hold onto it for as long as possible, too.

You see, it comes packaged as a spray can and while I generally cast a dubious side-eye at any sort of gimmicky packaging, this is different. What lies within is a solid, generously proportioned red wine of classic Australian style that will warm the cockles of your heart if you like your wine with a little horsepower.

The bottle itself is splashed with graffiti tags which frame the main label art-work, a painting of a Blue Wren entitled Blue Wre-lism by artist Morris Green.

The canvas for the wine itself is a selection of the best Adelaide Hills Shiraz fruit that Longview has to offer, with 15 per cent whole bunches employed in the ferments for a bit of lift and 18 months ageing in a mix of old and new French oak hogsheads.

It’s a ripe, concentrated wine; a wine with a lot in common with the blockbuster Aussie wines of old. Full-throttle dark and black fruits, dredged in baking spice, dark chocolate and licorice and definitely no shortage of punchy, clove-laden oak nuance. Still, for all that horsepower, it’s soft of tannin and bright of acid for a wine that packs in so much flavour. It’s a powerhouse wine but in the best way possible.


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