Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Published March 10th 2012
When we took luncheon we drank a 2009 Verdelho with our meals ($9 by the glass) and it was perfect for luncheon, light, crisp and sunny.
But this is only one of a large range produced by RiverBank Estate's winemaker, Robert Bond. The Estate is roughly thirty acres bought by Robert Bond and his partner, Lyn Amery in 1991 when it was just a cow paddock.
Over the next five years vines were planted in a wide variety - whites, Verdelho, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Semillon, while Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Sangiovese and Zinfandel are represented in red varieties.
The fruit is processed on the vineyard, as is not uncommon in the Swan and the only grape brought in is the Mt Barker Riesling.
This wide variety of grapes leads to a wide and varied wine list.
I don't know how valuable these written tastings are to readers. After all, if I tell you a wine smells of cinnamon, it doesn't tell you what the wine tastes like, you only know it smells of cinnamon to me. You may not be able to smell it, and may or may not like the wine anyway.
So, given the limitations of the genre, I really should just give you the facts as I know them and tell you if I liked it.
With that caveat in mind, let's have a look at the wines I sampled on that happy afternoon.
2009 Chenin Blanc A lovely straw-coloured aromatic dry, very reasonably priced at $23 a bottle - all the wines are well priced and the price shown is single bottle price.
2009 Unoaked Chardonnay
A warm, soft fruity wine ideal at luncheon or on a warm afternoon with friends. ($23)
This is the Mt Barker fruit and it has a rich fruity nose and the high acidity gives it a crisp tart taste. ($29)
2010 Oaked Chardonnay
This shows signs of the shortish time spent in new American oak, it has a very light nose, but a rosy, almost velvety smoothness and typical fruit salad flavours. Perfectly able to drink now, it will improve over the new few years. ($24)
This is sort of the house white, while not really as the range is so wide, but it's perhaps the most well known of the whites. There is a red version, too. It's predominantly Chardonnay but with both Semillon and pinot noir adding to its complexity.
A wonderfully buttery, grassy flavour. Ideal with pasta and a comfortable and comforting wine. ($23)
A classic Zinfandel taste. Most commonly found in United States' wines where the grape is phenomenally popular, although originally from Europe. It is a difficult wine to grow as the large tight bunches are particularly prone to rot. It has a light red colour and a vibrant but soft taste. As it is so distinctive it is something of an acquired taste. ($23)
This is a joyous red, happy and uncomplicated. Rich with Shiraz and deeply purple with the fruit. Delightful on its own it will do well with lamb or veal. ($23)
This wine has a great nose. Rich and fragrant, it seemed to me that even after six years it has good legs to go further in the cellar. Perfect with stews and rich dishes - my notes have the word 'friendly'. ($24 - and a snip at that price)
The traditional and hugely popular Cabernet grape makes this Cabernet traditional and oaking on a mix of French and American gives it a depth and complexity that the eight years in barrel and bottle have brought to a rich smoothness. Strong aromas of cherry and chocolate dominate. ($29)
2008 Cabernet Shiraz Merlot
The three wines were made on their own before blending and show strong oak. The tannin is definitely there, but is not overpowering, and with food will be a wonderful accompaniment. ($29)
A rich nose and savoury flavours make this a popular Malbec with light oak. ($35)
A very nice Shiraz with all the flavour up in front. ($29)
2002 Bindoon Shiraz
Now, for me, this is the wine. At $35, it is a steal. A very lovely wine, rich and satisfying.
But don't take my word for it - go and try these outstanding wines for yourself.