If you were looking for Australian wines with ‘character’ what would you choose? and would the ‘character’ lie with the winemaker or the wine itself?
Outgoing President of the Wine Communicators of Australia, Darren Jahn, offered his take on the question at a dinner thrown in his honour this week, highlighting a few wines of ‘character’ that were firstly good quality, but also were made by ‘Characters’. (Speaking of character, Peter & Margaret Lehmann were also in attendance, their stories – and general demeanour – highlighted again why they are so highly regarded in the Barossa).
Frankland Estate Poison Hill Frankland River Riesling 2009
An estate that has made their name via top class Riesling, this was typically refreshing and delicious, with a quite exotic and aromatic nose of aftershave and bath salts. The palate too is similarly striking, with unusual cassis characters on a dry, grapey, soft and earthen palate.
Fresh and interesting, this is a very good Australian Riesling, needing just a little definition for higher points. 17.8/92
Peter Lehmann Margaret Barossa Semillon 2004
I’ve been lucky to have had several vintages of this wine over the year and this seems the most backwards of the lot. With a nose that announces it’s toasty bottle age with a character that smells curiously, but delightfully, of grilled lobster (with lots of butter), this Semillon is ultimately a wine of contrasts, with the sour citrus of youth still utterly dominant throughout, leaving just the richness of bottle age just sneaking into the gaps. Acidity at this stage is a little awkward, but that’s just a reminder of this wine’s cellarability. It’s an unequivocably intense wine, and I can see how it could polarise drinkers, but to me this is a distinctive white that is chock full of character and will only get better. 18/92+
Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling 2009
I couldn’t stop drinking this, which is rare indeed for a ‘dessert wine’, and such a contrast to the heavy, 1-glass-is-well-enough, typical Oz sticky style.
Nose is all lime juice and honeysuckle, but more just Clare Riesling x 2, almost like the normal Mount Horrocks Riesling has been turned up to 11. The nose itself doesn’t actually smell sweet either, which I really like. Moving on, the palate has a buzzy, honey and lime fruit flavour that had me thinking of lime Icy Poles, but better, drier, crisper. Just like an icy pole though, this was so refreshing and tasty that I almost forget the simple perfection on offer. This wine has to be the best Australian dessert wine I have had in a very long time. Outstanding stuff. 18.7/95