Wine Ratings: Penley Estate, South Australia
South Australian shiraz is one of the country's iconic wines, but the area is capable of producing great wines from other grapes, as well.
With its hallmark ripe, juicy, black fruit, soft tannins and opulent style, the wine epitomises Australia's sunny, easy-going temperament. If you are looking for a more restrained and elegant style, then wines from the Coonawarra region are worth exploring. Coonawarra, meaning honeysuckle in a local Aboriginal language, is located about a four-hour drive east of Adelaide along the Limestone Coast.
The region is prized for its terra rossa, or red soil, composed of a thin layer of red clay loam with a high iron content over limestone soil. The free draining soil means vine roots will not take up excessive water, which can lead to higher yields and lower quality wines. The cooler maritime climate also influences the style of the wines, which tend to have restrained fruit and are structured on the palate with firmer tannins. Perhaps the region is best known for cabernet sauvignon, characterised by its blackcurrant, cherry and minty aromatics. The wines can age for more than a decade.
One of the better-known wineries in Coonawarra is Penley Estate. The winery was established in 1988 by Kym Tolley. Winemaking runs in his blood; his roots are in two iconic winemaking families. His great-great-great-grandfather was Dr Christopher Rawson Penfolds, who established Penfolds wine. The Tolleys have been in the business since 1888.
Penley Estate Aradia Chardonnay 2010
Despite chardonnay's ubiquity, Tolley says it is the hardest wine to make. His chardonnay is named after Aradia, a fictional goddess of the sun and moon. The sun symbolises strength ripening fruit. The moon represents influence over the growing season.
Melon, citrus, nutty, spicy notes on the nose. Medium-bodied with some creaminess. Balanced acidity and good fruit intensity. Some slight oak tannins. An approachable, easy-to-drink wine with balanced oak flavours. Can be drunk now. HK$167
Penley Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Cabernet sauvignon is the region's signature grape. The Reserve range is Penley's flagship wine. It has long cellaring potential. It has been aged in new oak for 24 months, 90 per cent in French oak and 10 per cent American oak.
Blackcurrant, spicy, minty notes and still quite closed. Full body with high fruit intensity. Fresh acidity and firm tannins. Still youthful. It has ageing potential of 10 or more years. HK$388
Penley Estate Chertsey 2006
Chertsey is the town in England where the Tolleys came from. A Bordeaux blend of 49 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 47 per cent merlot, and 4 per cent cabernet franc. The wine spent 24 months in French oak.
Blackcurrant, sour plum, licorice and savoury notes. Medium-bodied with well-integrated oak tannins. Harmonious and mellow finish. An elegant wine that goes well with rich, savoury dishes. HK$398
Wines are available from pontiwinecellars.com.hk