Obviously it’s July now (not June), but I did a quick trawl through the tasting book today and it revealed an interesting stat – Riesling, Chardonnay and Semillon make up the bulk of the white wines opened up here at Graham HQ.
It’s not a conscious decision, more just a reflection of what comes through the door. Not that I’m complaining either, as they’re three of my favourite white grape varieties.
So here then is a collection of the better ‘other’ white wines, from varieties that are clearly opened less often at home – 13 of June’s better white wines that aren’t Riesling, Chardonnay or Semillon.
Hahndorf Hill Gru Gruner Veltliner 2017
Larry Jacob’s Gruner range gets better every year, and this Adelaide Hills wine – arguably the most famous of the line – is in very good form this year. Numbers: TA 6.6g/L, pH 3.23. Talc, nashi pear, grapefruit – it’s cool and crisp but with a line of vaguely spicy pear fruit through the middle. Fresh and vital but with fruit concentration too. – importantly it has varietal character. Maybe a little too cool and linear, but with great definition. I really enjoyed this. Best drinking: Now and for the next year or so. 17.7/20, 92/100. 13%, $29. Would I buy it? Yes.
Longview Kühl Gruner Veltliner 2017
Cool packaging, cool wine from an winery that knows how to package up smart vino. The Longview team grapes picked the grapes for this Adelaide Hills white 3 weeks later than usual, a nod to the late vintage. Sees some extended lees contact for weight. Numbers: TA 5.3g/L, pH 3.36. It’s a peppery, grapefruit lined, snappy white that look frisky but not unripe – ie you can still taste the pear fruit. Even more subtle than the Hahndorf and another vibrant, fresh and aromatic Federspiel type Gruner. Best drinking: Now or in the next year or so. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13%, $25. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.
Topper’s Mountain Bricolage Blanc 2015
Texture. That’s the story here. From a winery that I’d argue is better known for whites than reds, this is a blend of New England Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Manseng and Viognier. Wild fermented with some parcels fermented in old oak for 7-9 months, what I love is the different flavours going on here. Gewurz gives perfume. The Petit Manseng gives that unmistakeable pear tang. It’s a tangy wine as a whole, with firm acid and drying phenolics, but with layers of richness too. Lots going on, and all perfectly contained too. Yes. I enjoy this. The length is exceptional too. It’s perhaps too dry, but the intensity and drive is very very good. Best drinking: Over the next 3-4 years, possibly longer. 18/20, 93/100. 13.5%, $30. Would I buy it? Sure would.
Vinea Marson Viognier 2014
Consistently one of the more interesting Viognier-based wines in the country. Sourced from Heathcote, with barrel ferment (25% new) and 6 months in oak. Lovely apple juice and lemon balm nose, before a gentle, finely textured mouthful of a palate. Feel the push pull of Viognier trying to get large and chubby, but with enough acid to keep things tight, and oak to give a little more richness. It’s a composed and nuanced Viognier. Maybe a little warmth on the finish, but doesn’t derail a classy wine. Best drinking: Over the next 3 years. 18/20, 93/100. 14% $30. Would I buy it? Sure would.
Amadio Adelaide Hills Pinot Grigio 2017
Amadio have a knack for crafting genuinely interesting Italian varietals (their Montepulciano is excellent) and here comes another standout. Authentic Grigio in a style that’s more textural Friuli than neutral Veneto with a stonefruit middle and phenollic grip. Proper presence, acidity and length. There’s a lovely saline tang too. Still a simply fresh wine at heart, but a very well executed one. 17.7/20, 92/100. 13.5%, $22. Would I buy it? Sure would.
Villa Maria Seddon Vineyard Pinot Gris 2016
Single vineyard Marlborough Pinot Gris from the Seddon Vineyard in the Awatere. The appeal here is about width, with white peach puree through the palate, the style generous and full and Alsace leaning but without quite tending to full opulence. 7g/l residual sugar and doesn’t look unbalanced at all, just nice and full and ready to go. Best drinking: Now, as it is getting fatter by the minute. 17.7/20, 92/100. NZ $30. Would I buy it? A glass or so.
Alkoomi Black Label Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Another expressive white from this overperforming WA winery. Passionfruit ahoy here! Lots of juicy passionfruit, tangy acidity underpins everything. It’s so pungent and juicy, faintly bitter finish. The most varietal Sauv you can think of, and good too. Best drinking: Now. 17.5/20, 91/100. Would I buy it? A glass or so. 12.5%, $30. Would I buy it? A glass or so.
Harewood Estate Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2017
Now here’s a flashback to the WA Sem Sauv of yore! A super delineated, sharp edged Great Southern white of black pepper and grapefruit It’s very snappy, with a big Sauv varietal note. the palate maybe a little sweet and sour, but with a real drive of pepper tang through the middle. Reminds me of the old Fermoy whites that could cut through anything. Will that acidity become tiring after a while? I liked it, for now. Best drinking: Now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 12%, $21. Would I buy it? A glass or so.
Shaw + Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2017
The original Adelaide Hills Sauv and reliable too. Really rather pretty lifted aromatics. Almost a hint of musk in amongst the rather lean lime fruit. Green melon and a little guava too. Slightly tart, as befits the season. Very tight and green fruited this year, but not unripe. So snappy and crisp. Clarity aplenty. Super defined. Just the slightest edge here that makes it a winner. So crisp, without harshness. Best drinking: Now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 12%, $27. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.
Toi Toi Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Good price for a reserve wine and has the aromatic density too. Grapefruit, passionfruit nettles and melon but cast in a ripe style rather than herbal. Palate has volume too, weighty tangy and with a real intensity to the kiwi fruit palate. Dry, punchy and long. This is handy wine for the price – a cut above in flavour volume. The acidity is just a bit tinny, but the quality is genuinely high. Best drinking: Now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13.5%, $19.99. Would I buy it? A glass or so.
Wirra Wirra Hiding Champion Sauvignon Blanc 2017
Now a single vineyard proposition, all from the Yandra Vineyard. Banana esters, a lift of passionfruit, it’s a slightly sullen, slightly reductive style, but it’s so defined. The delineation here is perfect for a cool vintage, the whiffs of lemon thyme, the green melon edge. It’s just a bit lean in the scheme of things, but still classic shape. Best drinking: Now. 17.5/20, 91/100. 12.5%, $24. Would I buy it? A glass or so.
Vinea Marson Friulano #7 2014
From the Mount Buff Vineyard near Porepunkah. Spends 7 days on skins and inspired by the wines of Collio. Tangerine orange colour and a tangerine nose. That said, it’s not a hard wine – or a wild orange wine for that matter. There’s a slight phenolic edge but it’s subtly done. Nicely handled. Would have loved to see this wine younger though as the fruit has faded leaving just some vague peach nectar fruit. Love to see this earlier. Best drinking: Now. 17/20, 90/100. 12% $30. Would I buy it? A glass.
Vinea Marson Grazia 2013
Alpine Valleys fruit, the blend includes Pinot Bianco, Malvasia d’Istra, Friuliano, Picolit. Intrigue! Gently honey and jasmine fragrance. There’s a delicious honeysuckle note here that is just beautiful. The palate has a sort of chubby warmth to it, a phenolic grip and then alcohol on the palate. After the seduction of the nose the developed and grippy palate doesn’t really give as much joy. Layers of texture, if a little hard. The seductive hints won me over but I do think this might be better earlier. Best drinking: Now. 17/20, 90/100. 13.5%, $30. Would I buy it? A glass.