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Review: Long Rail Gully

Elouise Calabria

Canberra wines just seem to get better and better and while most aficionados would have heard of Clonakilla or Helm, there are plenty of other wineries in the district producing top notch tipples.

Over the next few months, I’ll work my way through our local cellar doors (what a hassle!) and hopefully you’ll discover some new and wonderful wines.

Tucked away off the Barton highway, between Murrumbateman and Yass, lies Long Rail Gully Winery, one of the largest and most picturesque wineries in the region. Owned by Garry and Barbara Parker and their winemaker son Richard, Long Rail Gully is very much a family business with even the grandkids helping out on busy days such as during the Murrumbateman Moving Feast festival in October.

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Vines were first planted at Long Rail in 1998 and there are now 60 acres under vine producing over 200 tonnes of grapes a year – that makes approx. 140,000 bottles of wine, yum! The estate has stuck to the tried and true Canberra varieties and includes Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvingon.

Here’s a couple of reviews to get you in the mood…

2015 Riesling
Riesling and Canberra are like peas and carrots, they just go together. Our terroir (fancy wine word for the sense of place – i.e. the climate, soil, landscape etc) makes the Riesling grape sizzle.

2015 was one of the best years this region has ever seen and as a result, this is one hell of a wine. Riesling suffers from a bit of an image problem as it’s not sexy like Sav Blanc or approachable like Pinot Gris, but when done well, Riesling is a complex, interesting and most importantly, delicious wine. This one from Long Rail Gully ticks all the boxes – it has zesty lime flavours, a good balance of fruit and acidity, and because it’s only 11.5% alcohol, you can drink a fair bit without getting too tipsy.

A great summer wine, although with that said, I did just drink it in the depths of winter without too much trouble…

2015 Pinot Gris
Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio seem to cause a lot of confusion but they are in fact exactly the same grape. Theoretically, Pinot Gris is a French-styled wine with ripe, rich fruit characteristics while Pinot Grigio is an Italian-styled wine which is lighter and more refreshing in style.

In Australia, there are no hard and fast rules regarding labelling hence Gris and Grigio can taste very similar in style and therefore confuse everyone. I used to find Gris/Grigio a bit of a boring wine, it seemed to be the standard variety on offer as the house white at most of the pubs in London and while a safe bet, just not very interesting.

Since coming back to Australia, I have a new found respect for the Gris wine and Long Rail Gully’s doesn’t disappoint. This wine has lovely tropical notes with peach aromas and passionfruit on the palate but nicely balanced with grapefruit which tones down the sweetness. Like many good cool climate wines, this one has some subtle savoury characteristics and the hint of thyme makes this a very well rounded wine.

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2014 Shiraz
I love Shiraz in all its forms. Cool climate Shiraz is very different to its warmer cousins found in the likes of the Barossa and Riverina with the main difference being savoury rather than fruity characteristics.

2014 was a challenging year for Canberra winemakers with the weather throwing all sorts of curve balls including a heatwave, excessive rain, an early frost and hail! Long Rail have done a good job with this Shiraz and it has retained a complexity of flavours including white pepper and mint. The tannins are nice and soft and the wine lingers long after the last mouthful so the length is there too. This is a good example of a good wine made in a challenging year.

2014 Pinot Noir
This wine is one of the most surprising I have drunk in a while. I’m not a big fan of Pinot at the best of times as they can be thin and lacking in any depth of flavour. With 2014 being a very challenging year, I honestly was not expecting much from this bottle.

How good it feels to be wrong sometimes (just don’t tell my husband!). Long Rail Gully’s 2014 Pinot is full bodied, complex, rich and savoury – just the way a fabulous Pinot should be. The nose on this wine has hints of mushroom, cloves and leather, indicating its complexity as I’m getting so much more than cherries which is typical of this variety.

Drinking this wine is such a pleasure, full bodied with juicy fruit and exotic spices, it has a long creamy finish – somewhat similar to a good lindt milk chocolate. There is a lot to like about this wine!

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the essentials 
What: Long Rail Gully Winery
Where: Long Rail Gully Road, Murrumbateman, about a 45 minute drive from Canberra.
When: Cellar Door is open Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays 10am-5pm.
Shop: You can find Long Rail Gully wines at the following retailers:

  • 21 cafe and grocer
  • Ainsle Cellars
  • Campbell Liqour Discounts
  • Chapman IGA
  • Chifley Friendly Grocer
  • Rivett Spar
  • Kingston Hotel Bottleshop
  • Canberra Cellars Braddon, Belconnen and Gold Creek
  • Urban Cellars Curtin and Civic
  • Statesman Hotel Bottleshop
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Elouise Calabria

Elouise Calabria grew up on a vineyard in Griffith and, together with her husband Scott, recently begun Vines & Wines - a wine appreciation and tours business. You can contact Elouise at [email protected] or check out the website at http://www.vineswines.com.au More about the Author