Current Issue #488

Wine Reviews:
Ngeringa, Hickinbotham, Oliver’s Taranga

In keeping with current necessity it’s South Australia all the way with this month’s wine selections.


2018 Iluma Vineyard Syrah
RRP $60

Ngeringa is a cracking winery over Mount Barker way, some five hectares of vines on a 75-hectare property that was originally part of the world-renowned Jurlique herb farm. The custodians have been certified biodynamic for over 20 years… one of the pioneers of biodynamic farming in Australia.

Walk through a biodynamic vineyard and it’s clear something good is happening. They seem alive. The air buzzes with insects, the canopies and inter-rows are healthy and vibrant; everything seems balanced and full of energy, as does the fruit harvested off these blocks.

The good folk that farm this way seem more in tune with ebb and flow of their land too… Funny how all that works. Time spent in the field, I guess.

The Iluma vineyard lies a few kilometres away from the farm near Nairne, on a west-facing slope that shines with micaceous schists.  

The wine is deep red with purple flashes and an alluring nose of black plum, cherry and blueberries cut deep with exotic spice, light amaro herbs, olive tapenade and lighter tones of roasting meats and violets.

Medium-bodied in the mouth, it’s a very composed wine, a little more of that cool-climate spice coming through on the palate with just a passing glance of pepper. There’s a lovely bright energy to the wine, a curtain of chalky tannin and a distinct, pure savoury edge as the wine trails away. Lovely, pure, earthy drinking.


2018 The Nest Cabernet Franc
RRP $75

Just the second release of this particular wine and it’s a beauty. McLaren Vale’s Hickinbotham, an estate whose primary focus is on the Bordeaux and Rhône varieties, has consistently released terrific wines across the range, year after year, from great vineyards in Clarendon. A fair bit of talent behind this wine as well.

Organic and biodynamic viticulture guru Michael Lane ensures the fruit is superb and the winemaking is a joint effort between Yangarra Estates Peter Fraser and American winemaker Chris Carpenter who produces stunning and much sought-after wines from the mountain appellations of Cardinale, Lokoya, La Jota and Mt Brave in California.

I like cabernet franc. Sometimes it can display an overt, leafy, currant-bushy aroma; not off-putting or unpleasant at all but always instantly recognisable when wine-sleuthing.

This particular wine has none of that. The fruit purity immediately impresses with red plum, redcurrant and raspberry notes flitting above a darker plummy core. There are hints of light baking spice, biscuity French oak notes, ‘Old Jamaican’ chocolate and wafts of bramble and herbs.

There is a lovely flow to the wine on the palate with the initial attack plumed with purple floral notes of violets and jasmine before it expands across the mid-palate. Pure, vivid red berry and plum fruits with a great kinetic mouthfeel, gentle sandy tannins and a long, sustained finish. It really is superb drinking, supple and succulent with impeccable balance and appeal. It’s a beauty.

Oliver’s Taranga

2020 Fiano
RRP $25

Sure. We’re in the depths of winter. Tilting into icy squalls, eyes all squinty, just concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other and counting down the seconds before we crack open our next bottle of wine.

But we shouldn’t just be concentrating on red wines at this time of the year. Oh, no. Sometimes we just need a shot of something clean and frisky to slake one’s thirst and brighten things up a little.

Well, hello there, fresh as a daisy Fiano! It’s a variety I very much enjoy and it seems to feel right at home here in South Australia, best enjoyed with a view of the ocean and some sand or grass between your toes. But in winter? Well blow me down if it ain’t the purdiest little pick-me-up going when you need a delicious vinous boost.

Pale straw in colour with green flashes, the wine jumps out of the glass with a citrusy blast of fruit. Grapefruit, lemon, lime and nashi pear are at the front of the pack with hints of makrut lime, lemon sherbet and lighter wafts of juniper berries and the characteristic ‘pine nut’ aroma that one associates with the variety.

It races across the palate nicely, aromas neatly transposed, perhaps lime beginning to be the dominant fruit, but one thing’s for certain: there is a textural sway to this wine which is quite captivating. It’s pure and sleek, has a great velocity over the palate with a clean, dry, racy finish. Great value.

Dave Brookes

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