Canberra - as a wine region at least - is so-hot-right-now, spearheaded as it is by the rise of spicy mid weight Shiraz and a push into savoury alternative varieties (like Tempranillo). And if there is to be a poster kid for this new generation of Canberra producers then surely Nick O'Leary is it (though he might need some photoshopping).
Nick has been involved in wine retail, wholesaling, viticulture and retail over the years and seems to have a pretty firm grasp on what it is that makes for good Canberra wines (or at least I thought so. He even laughed at one of my crap jokes), helped by the fact that he's got good vineyard contacts and some clever winemaking peers to work with (Alex McKay for an example). The prices of his wines too are more than reasonable given the detail and attention that went into them. Well worth tracking down.
Nick O'Leary Canberra Riesling 2011
Whole bunch pressed with oxidative winemaking and natural ferments. 'Nice green, clean bunches even despite the vintage. Lots of fruit dropped'. 11.8% alc. 6-7g/L RS. $28 RRP
Very green, talc and florals nose with a whisper of sugar. Very dry but juicy green juice palate. Not unripe but genuinely very tight. Great line through the finish with the sugar giving generosity. Would probably be a hard wine without the sugar but here it looks balanced and very pure. A lovely Riesling with detail and style. 18/93
Bourke St Canberra Sauvignon Blanc 2011
11.5% alc. $23 RRP.
|Wine love Canberra style|
Bourke St Canberra Chardonnay 2010
Wild yeast fermented, matured in 1-3yr old oak. 13% alc. $23 RRP
Lovely wild yeast bubblegum nose. Worked but delightfully minerally nose. Palate too is creamy, refined and really quite sexy. Nice acid line too. Melons and yeast. Very much a carefully crafted modern, acid driven Chardonnay this, it needs just a fraction more power to be a superstar. Good stuff. 17.7/92+
Bourke St Canberra Pinot Noir 2010
Sourced from a high(ish) altitude vineyard near Bungendore on the escarpment above Lake George. 13% alc. $23 RRP.
Light nose, spicy bark, pepper and bacon bits - very much in the Canberra Pinot mould - and looking quite forward and evolved if a fraction roasted. The palate too is dry, quite extractive and brackish but with some good spicy 'heart'. I'm still not convinced by many Canberra Pinots and this doesn't quite do it for me either (though in context it's not a terribly bad wine). 16.5/88
Bourke St Canberra Shiraz 2010
30-40% whole bunch fruit, with 20% new and the rest in 1-4yr old oak. 13% alc. $23 RRP
Dry, serious and delectable, whole bunch tipped nose. A nicely 'winey' nose on this that suggests plenty of latent power. Excellent peanut brittle (thanks GW) regional characters too. Stewed plum and blackberry fruit with sturdy tannins to cap it off. My this is a lot of wine for $23! If you like spicy whole bunch Shiraz then climb aboard. 17.9/93+
Nick O'Leary Canberra Shiraz 2010
Less than 2,000 cases of this produced. Sourced from the Fisher and Mckenzie vineyards. 50% whole bunch fruit with 40% new and the rest 1-3yr old French oak. 3-5% Viognier. 13.5% alc. $38 RRP
Woah! Very serious and sexy nose. Lovely bright violets, earth, edgy stalkiness and red cherries. Exceptionally well integrated Viognier in this - no apricots to be seen. Mid weight, slightly warm palate with redcurrant fruit and brisk tannins. Really rather pretty but still properly savoury and dry, this is pure gold medal gear. 18.5/94