There is no reason why this tasting should be so bad. Yet every year I line up a collection of textural white wines and every year it’s disappointing.
Except that this lineup didn’t suck at all. No siree. Most of these I actually enjoyed, just to prove that nailing the balance in textural Australian white wines isn’t that hard at all.
Maybe this is the start of a good year?
Alkoomi Wandoo Semillon 2013
Really like this. A tangy oak matured Semillon of complexity and flavours. The oak is carefully folded into the lemony fruit. A hint of bitter herbaceous notes, but thar just adds drive and a bitter edge, the oak just adding cream. This is a lovely composed white, the bitter herbs a counterpoint to the gently rich grapefruit pie flavours. Strictly speaking it’s a bit lean right now, but with an extra year or two it’s going to be even more of a beauty. Best drinking: Even better next year and will still be alive in a decade. 18/20, 93/100. 11.3% $35. Would I buy it? Yes.
Punt Road Pinot Gris 2017
Punt Road kicking goals again – a Yarra producer doing good things. Wild fermented with a little skin contact and barrel ferment. Lovely tang this year, it really nails the acid/fruit sweetness balance. More Gris should taste like this. Best drinking: Good now or over two years. 17.7/20, 92/100. 12.5%, $25. Would I buy it? Sure would.
Down to Earth Sauvignon Blanc 2016
This is the second wine to the Terre á Terra Sauv below but not lesser. Handpicked, spends 6 months on lees, with 38% matured in barrel. Citrussy wine but a more subtle, down tempo style. There’s hints of banana cream in a nod to the oak, but mainly grapefruit in a gently citrussy style. Has nice freshness to it this, a mid weight white that is slowly unfurling in the bottle. Definitely Australian Sauv, but with Bordeaux Blanc leanings. Best drinking: Now, but will get better with another year. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13.5%, $26. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.
Longview Queenie Pinot Grigio 2017
Fresh, neutral, easy Grigio but with some finesse. No alarms, its perhaps slightly inoffensive. But that’s kind of the intention. The closer you look, the more it is apparent that this is clever and finely textured. Good. Best drinking: Now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 12%, $22. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.
Punt Road Airlie Bank Sauvignon Blanc 2017
From Block 10 on the Napoleone Vineyard in Coldstream. Barrel fermented and bottled young to retain freshness. Gooseberry pyrazine nose with a dash of green pea. That’s disarming though as underneath it’s soft edged and even a little creamy, the acid tempered nicely by barrel. It’s quite delicious really, even if it feels a bit angular too. I like it and very well priced. Best drinking: Now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 12%, $20. Would I buy it? A glass would be about enough for me – it’s just a bit pointy.
Terre à Terre Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Hand picked, two months cold settling. Barrel fermented and spends 9 months in barrel. The only stopping this wine is time – it always needs a year or two to come together. A little creamed asparagus on the nose, the palate is full and fleshy, every bit the fume, with creamed white peach, a palate that is initially rich and full but finishes tart and citrussy. That acid is just a little intrusive for now, but give it a year or so. Hold! Best drinking: 2019 at least. It will live for 5 years after that. 17.5/20, 91/100+. 13.9%, $30. Would I buy it? Not yet.
Yelland Papps Second Take Roussanne 2016
Wild ferment in barrel. 9.5 months in barrel. Unfiend and unfiltered, it’s cloudy like a scrumpy, but it’s not volatile, just all red and green apple juice. Nice ripe fruit underneath too, with a cloudy apple cider leesy softness. It’s almost too appley, but I like this in small doses. Best drinking: Now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 12.2%, $40. Would I buy it? A glass.
Jim Barry Assyrtiko 2017
The first crop off this was just 2014, so early early days. This smells more like a Clare Valley white than Assyrtiko, though fresh and lively. Cool lime and lemon rind on the nose giving a nod to the cool vintage with a mouthwatering citrus freshness on the palate. Clare Valley first, then classic Assyrtiko. It’s a nice drink and refreshing with its interplay between celery lime juice and taut acidity, with surprising length, but it’s still just a neutral, could be anything white wine. Best drinking: Now. 17/20, 90/100. 12.5%, $35. Would I buy it? A glass.
Skillogalee Gewurztraminer 2016
This can be superb but seems a little subdued here. Fully ripe nose, but not overt. Indeed it’s a quite moderate wine, dry and without the fullness expected. I suspect it got ripe and then when fermented dry it lost some of that weight. Still, the flavours are full, even if its not as pungently varietal as expected. Warm finish too. Best drinking: Now. 17/20, 90/100. 14.2%, $27.50. Would I buy it? Not really.