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Cheeky new wines from Tynan Road


Whitey has a wallow in the latest releases of winemaker Duane Coates and the Craigs at Tynan Road Wines.

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Duane Coates’ new winery sits on a ridge in the South Mount Lofty Ranges between McLaren Flat and the Kuitpo Forest. It overlooks the picturebook vineyard of Sandy and Heidi Craig, for whom he makes the Tynan Road wines.

Although neither Coates nor the Craigs have any blame to take, the naming of this appellation is confusing and illogical: Kuitpo is surely the flat wide plain to the east; the Adelaide Hills start a good 20 minutes’ drive to the north. So be it. These wines are really damn good!

Tynan Road Kuitpo Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ($25; 13% alcohol; screw cap) is a more grown-up wine than most of the grassy-green versions of this grape: it’s had some time in good French oak. This contributes some perfectly-appropriate seasoning and extra texture, adding a tantalising aroma like slightly smoky, pale charcuterie meats. To a comfy degree, this plumps the cushions of the wine’s bright ripe gooseberry/tomato coulis/passionfruit spectrum.

For the best appreciation of this, the wine should not be served chilled – out of the box and 15 minutes in the ice bucket should lob it at a more suitable “cellar” temperature.

On one hand, it’s smooth, easy, lip-smacking refreshment for that dappled verandah or patio with conversation, crudités and pale crumbly cheeses. But put some linen on the table and try it with barely-grilled garfish or whiting with prawn mousseline and it’ll be more luxuriated oohs and aahs over the quiet clink of cutlery. Ring the bells.

Tynan Road Kuitpo Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2016 ($30; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap) sees that oak turned up a notch toward fresh ginger and those pale cured meats surrender to a more cashews-grilled-in-Paris-Creek-butter sort of affair.

In tidy, clipped counterpoint, the wood also adds some piquant, prickly topnotes, giving the form of a cheeky young Burgundy. Which, mind you, would be taking at least double this money from your cache.

After the Savvy-b, this is a more serious adventure. It calls for a cool Provence-style pork and bean stew, or big slabs of seared pink salmon or tuna with capers, fennel and a gentle mustard cream.

It’s proper cool region Chardonnay made with great sensitivity at a bargain price.

While we’re Burgundy dreaming, the Tynan Road Kuitpo Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2016 ($25; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap) is a little more Austral, more Côtes de Coates than Côtes de Nuits … more vibrantly fruity than, say, a Dujac Gevrey 2011 … maybe even more complex than your average year there on the Côtes.

Its jolly, cheeky, berry fruit reminds me somewhat of the Ashton Hills Pinot, a current favourite.

At which point we can forget France and get on with Tynan Road. I love the little spicy hint in here, with all that pink bubby Aussie flesh. Cheeky, brash, audacious, early … the acid’s still a tad lemony – it needs another year or two to be ideal, if that’s what you want.

Right now, I’d be entirely happy using it as a handy bridge between those fish steaks and a proper cassoulet.

Which leads neatly to the variety I regard as the Pinot from the other side of the Alps: Tynan Road Kuitpo Adelaide Hills Nebbiolo 2016 ($35; 14% alcohol; screw cap).

This has even more audacious fruity flesh: bright meaty blueberry and jellied red currant with cream, wandering off toward cranberry, even salmonberry. It’s a gorgeous, wholesome, dessert-like bouquet.

Duane has been particularly judicious with the oak: this fruit would have been very easily overwhelmed by the sap and spice of too many new barrels. As she stands, there’s just enough to prickle and tease the gaping olfactories.

The palate’s the real playground: after those cheeky fleshy fruits the tannin settles in like a cloud. While from below in the stones, the firm grape acid rises. Until these fringes wash back into the mainstream and settle, gimme the Piedmontese insalata di carne cruda, which is about as close as Italy gets to the minced steak tartar.

Tynan Road Kuitpo Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2016 ($30; 14% alcohol; screw cap) is lovely spicy upland Shiraz right in line with the rest of this bonnie range, but bigger. Heady sweet perfume and flesh are once again the hallmarks, seasoned a little more by the appropriate oaks.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a Shiraz as cool and fine as this on the McLaren Vale flats: it’s a polar opposite to all that powerful hearty gloop from the past.

It’s more suited to the fungi textures and flavours than, say, your standard steak. Portobello, boletus and shiitake mushrooms with wokked spinach greens and reconstituted Si gua luo, the dried Chinese luffa gourd, (called something like “chiuk sung” when they have it in T-Chow) all in black bean and garlic sauce, would be a very happy marriage.

Keep your nose on the wines coming from this fine new establishment: now he has a permanent home, Coates joins a new wave of top-level southern winemakers, who, in the consolidating years of their middle age, are finally leading the Vales in a bright new gloop-free direction. Think Pannell, Geddes, and the bold new Grenache brigade who are finally learning to pick early. Rock ‘n’ roll.

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