(2020) A fine example of the 'new' Australian Chardonnay, though in truth there's nothing new about the story of the country's Chardonnays having changed style from the golden 'oak bombs' of the 1990s. From the Eden Valley, home to so much excellent Riesling, this is barrel fermented with wild yeasts, and spent six months in fine-grained French oak. A pale green-straw in colour, the nose is pretty and cool, with just a little almond sheen of richness, hinting at creaminess, before a palate of zippy pear and apple, much more citrus driving through the core of this, the finish clean and well-tempered, with a clarity to the balanced acid and fruit finish.
(2020) I see from my database that I did taste a Sauvignon/Semillon blend from Hollick way back in 1998, but it was still something of a shock to see this: a Sauvignon Blanc from Coonawara, normally associated with South Australia's premium Bordeaux-style red wines. It's certainly packed to the rafters with character; abundant and pungent herbaceous and elderflower aromas, pea-shoots and tropical fruit, then the palate showing just a little bit of a sweet-sour character for me, the vivid exotic fruit surely a little residual sugar against lemon-jelly acidity.
(2019) Don't even ask about the unusual name of this wine, but instead concentrate on a very good example of a wine in the 'orange wine' idiom, that is not too extreme and will serve both as a more gentle introduction to the style, and simply as a very nice wine. It's a blend of 66% Semillon and 34% Viognier, fermented with skin contact and aged 18 months in old barrels. The colour is an astonishing, luminous buttercup yellow, and the careful winemaking is evident: picking the Semillon a little late to avoid its sometimes herbaceous character, and the Viognier a little early to minimise it's tendency to become a little heavy and alcoholic - this has only 12.7% abv. Don't come looking for upfront fruitiness however: this has notes akin to Fino sherry on the nose, nuttiness and light kaolin, the palate dry, earthy and savoury, a bit of lemon curd and plenty of yeasty funk adding to the intrigue. A food wine for sure, watch the video for more information.
(2018) Yalumba have long been masters of the Viognier variety, now quite widely planted outside of its Rhône Valley home, but sometimes producing wines that verge on being 'blowsy' and too alcoholic. Not here, with this 13% abv rendition from the cool-ish Riesling heartland of the Eden Valley. It doesn't miss out on the exotic and quite flamboyant aromatics of the variety, with lychee and a touch of sweet potpourri spice, nectarine fruit and yet a lightly flinty, smoky note too. In the mouth it juxtaposes sweet stone fruits with a lemon and lime-rind acidity, and that lightly salty and stony note adding definition. For more information and food-matching ideas, please watch the full video review.
(2017) Owned and operated by the Baker family, sourced mainly from the western side of the valley, easterly facing and does not get quite so much sun. Less aromatic than the Rieslingfreak No 3, some delicate white currant notes, a touch of white flowers and the palate has a slightly less strident acidity. Price and stockist quoted at time of review is for the 2014 vintage.
(2016) No skin contact for this, but a lovely clean and yet grippy nose, with tight apple fruit. Loads of acidity, a real pithy lemon and grapefruit bite that has great presence. 15% fermented in oak gives texture more than flavour.
(2016) This is a Marks & Spencer exclusive, made by Torbreck with input from M&S's winemaker Belinda Kleinig. At time of review the 2014 vintage is about to change over to this 2015 in stores and online. It's a really very good white Rhône blend, with all the creamy polish, succulence and weight of these varieties, plenty of pear, apricot and nuttiness in the background, but the full and substantial weight of the palate tempered by very good acidity, a leesy bite of richness and a lingering finish.
(2015) From one of the top regions for the new-look, cooler climate-style Chardonnay in Australia, this is fermented in new, large 'hogshead' barrels with wild yeasts and spends eight months in oak. The nose has the mealiness and typically quite 'muddied' but complex aromatics of wild yeast ferment, nuts, spices, earth, before a palate showing sweet and ripe apple and melon, with a lemon rind kick of acidity and certainly some grip: alcohol is a modest 13% but this has a hint of astringency that just touches the back of the throat. An interesting and quite complex wine, though not finishing as pure and delicate as it might.
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