Blown away is somewhat of an understatement. I expected thick, over-oaked, jammy, and I got none of these. Where have I been all this time?
The tasting was cleverly arranged in 3 categories showcasing the exceptionally old age of some of the vineyards, how wine making has changed and where it is going, as indicated in the title above. Twelve wines in all, I’ll talk about the ones that impressed me most.
We kick off with a Semillon from McGuigan Wines ‘Bin 9000’ from the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, 2007. From the first commercial wine region of Oz comes this surprise: could have sworn it was oak on the nose but on the palate this young, early picked grape just comes alive in a balanced lemony, acidic palate which has even a little spice on the finish. Considering it’s a 2007 vintage, it’s retained its fresh, vibrant quality. With only 11% alcohol, makes you think.
Alko in Finland – €19,59
McGuigan Wines – http://www.mcguiganwines.co.uk/agegate?destination=
Crossing over the full extent of this huge continent all the way to Margaret River near Perth, sits Vasse Felix Winery in Western Australia. This ‘Premier’ Chardonnay is as young as 2014. With ocean on 3 sides, the conditions are simply perfect for this grape varietal. The terroir of loam soil, limestone and clay produce this delicate grape which after 9 months in French oak, 50% of which is new, is transformed into elegant acidity with notes of butter and pepper. This wine is resoundingly vibrant and bright with a luscious mouth feel and a lingering finish. Am I imagining it or was there something like mushroom in there?
Vasse Felix – http://www.vassefelix.com.au
Yarra Valley? Victoria? We go way over on the other side again where we come across Luke Lambert who has favoured keeping 40% of the whole bunch of Syrah grapes in his fermentation process. Added to this, the juice is wild fermented and only wild malolactic is allowed. Matured in 28 year old puncheons, yeah I was wondering too, no fining or filtration takes place. Small production, minimal messing around and you get this classy, restrained example of this grape varietal. Nice blackberry, floral nose with a super divine violet palate and a finish that gets you grabbing for more. A puncheon, by the way, is a wooden barrel holding 500 litres of liquid.
And then the Revolution. Route du Van – a humorous play on words befitting the people that run the show and the winery’s relaxed attitude taking the consumer on a road trip exploring Victoria. Their Dolcetto and Shiraz is undeniably different, the former grape springing forth from some of the oldest vineyards in the world. You thought it was Italian, right? So did I but now I know better. They call this one a Wednesday night wine. No need for pretense, it’s just yummy without being jammy with just enough tannins on the finish.