With Anzac Day upon us, some of us take time to broadly reflect.
In the time since the Vietnam War ended, the Australian wine industry has evolved from global irrelevance into the vinous powerhouse that it is today.
It is testament to what we as a nation can achieve when we choose to combine our natural spirit of endeavour with talent, innovation and sheer determination.
Below are some of Australia’s best chardonnays and pinot noirs, any of which do our national flag proud.
To these wines I have added a wine of similar qualities from across the Tasman, acknowledging our great mates with whom we have shared so much.
2016 Coldstream Hills Réserve Chardonnay
Bright, pale lemon appearance with a touch of green highlights. Complex cool aromas of Bartlett pear surfing atop a gentle wave of new oak and complex sulphide.
Excellent nervosité on entry, the acidity keeps the intense medium bodied palate up on its toes, and the flavours of citrus and nougat zesty.
This finishes long and chewy with the fruit gift wrapping the oak and fruit tannins. Stylish, powerful wine this. Yes.
2015 Devils Lair “9th Chamber” Chardonnay
This is the fourth release of this cuvée which is produced only in very good vintages.
Brilliant medium ripe lemon appearance. This wine has game and is not shy in bringing it; the bouquet is nose filling with its complex notes of complex sulphide tang, yellow and white fruits and some French oak influence.
The palate has real intensity on entry with powerful, complex chewy flavours with notes of prosciutto-wrapped rock melon, stone fruit, nuts and finishing with a dense, persistent length which stays lively thanks to some well integrated sneaky acidity. Perfect with veal scallopini/chicken/richer seafood dishes (would be horrific with oysters).
Unmistakable as Margaret River/New World chardy and a very very good one at that.
2015 Pierro “VR” Chardonnay
Originally scheduled for release in March 2019, this is available now to alleviate the supply shortage of the “standard” Pierro chardy.
Well, wow… This strikes me as having been made unashamedly in the style of great white burgundies of years gone by, as it looks and smells like quality “old school” Chassagne-Montrachet. Brilliant mid-lemon colour, a joy to behold.
Really complex bouquet of citrus, lanolin, sulphide, lees, and a fair whack of oak, however there is a lot else going on here to soak it up. Now, please God, let the palate deliver – and it does in spades. The attack on entry is excellent powering the superbly textured flavours throughout the palate experience. Lemon curd, cashew, mineral and acacia notes are all underpinned with excellent acidity and framed beautifully by new oak.
Not for the faint of heart, this is thrilling, and one of the best Oz chards I’ve seen for a long time.
2013 Martinborough Vineyard Home Block Pinot Noir
From one of my favorite NZ producers, notable for their quality and consistency. The evenly warm 2013 vintage is regarded as a classic for Martinborough, yielding ideal grapes from a nigh on perfect growing season. Medium deep dark red now showing some development at the meniscus. Complex bouquet of ripe dark red berry fruit, a touch of warm “animale” character, hint of black olive , earth and some back notes of menthol. The palate has evolved beautifully and has a pleasantly surprising level of attack on entry and overall cut, given the warmth of the year. The flavours are generously proportioned with a delicious balance of now tertiary dark red and black fruit flavours, complexed with savoury notes of sous bois, herbs, and a fresh, cleansing piquancy cloaking the tannins. Intense and pleasurable.
2016 Wantirna Estate “Lily’s Vineyard” Pinot Noir
“We will remember Wantirna South!”
Such was the cry from the late Len Evans, who blamed a cabernet from Wantirna Estate as the reason for the defeat in the ’70s of his legendary wine options team at the hands of the upstart “Big V”, led by Peter Joyce, President of The Wine and Food Society of Victoria.
It’s said that LPE never forgave those he considered to have conspired to bring about his downfall. Methinks he might be similarly stumped by this wine if served it in a blind tasting, however I’m equally convinced he would be seduced by its quality
Cool, suave aromatics of rose and violets; enchanting. This is seriously good.
Superbly textured, vibrant attack segues to a sinewy concentrated middle palate chock full of fresh cool red and blue fruits. Strikes the perfectly balance between fruit sweetness and savoury complexities, this finishes so so long and very even.
The flavours are extraordinarily persistent. Stunning wine. Premier/Grand cru modern-burgundy quality at a fraction of the price. Bravo and remember Wantirna Estate!
2016 Bass Phillip “Premium” Pinot Noir
From Australia’s greatest producer of pinot noir.
I’ve known the idiosyncratic, Collingwood-supporting BP proprietor Phillip Jones for just on 35 years. Indeed, when we first met it was at a time when he had just planted the BP vineyard and I still had hair.
Our wine education was through diligently consuming as much as we could of the wines of M. Jayer, Coche, Niellon etc. It was an expensive education however it was well worth it, and Jones’ understanding that to make the greatest wine you had to drink the greatest wine, was pivotal in him ultimately producing pinots of such astonishing complexity and power.
Medium red with some development, a classic example of don’t judge the intensity of a wine by its colour. The nose has the lifted breezy aromatics of very fine burgundy with notes of red fruits, confiture, menthol and sous bois.
The fruit attack on entry is lively with a genuine zippiness. Succulent middle palate weight, the wild strawberry fruit flavours are mouth filling in a medium bodied way, long, fragrant and delicious.
This is a Chambolle/Vosne hybrid to the previous wine’s Gevrey/Morey. A beautiful bottle of wine.
Frank Wilden is a retail food strategist and a “lapsed” restaurateur whose love of wine began nearly four decades ago.
Frank is writing this fortnightly wine column for Business Insider Australia. Get in touch with him via @thefrankreport on Twitter
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