Barossa Chenin Blanc. I’m guessing it won’t bump Pinot Gris from fashionably derivative restaurant wine lists any time soon. However, Chenin Blanc interests me as a variety because, as lovely as it can be in the Loire Valley, it seems to leave its personality at home when it travels. And yet, the loveliness of a nice Vouvray keeps me hoping for greater things in our local wines. At under $10, at least this wine makes it inexpensive to test the waters.
Served cold, this wine smells of prickly lemon, green apple, a hint of honey and a slightly waxy note that adds some softness to the aroma profile. Closer to room temperature, the aroma stays remarkably static, gaining in richness but not losing its fundamentally bright, aromatic character. There’s nothing especially wrong with the way this wine smells, but it’s also a bit bland, the way an IKEA bookshelf is bland. You know it will do the job, but you can’t really love it.
The palate seems more strongly influenced by temperature. Initially, this wine displays a tight, almost overwhelmingly lemon-like palate, bright and refreshing in its sharpness and acidity. Mouthfeel is nicely textured, with a blanket of well-judged acidity providing a nice sense of freshness, if not a terribly sophisticated structure. At first, I thought I detected a hint of oxidative flavours, but this seemed to fade through the evening. As it warms, the wine shows notes of honey and round, slightly sweet fruit, all of which provides enjoyment on the mid-palate. Perhaps a hint of minerality too. There’s certainly a good deal of flavour. Acidity carries the wine cleanly through the after palate, where the flavour profile reverts to citrus-driven astringency, clean and satisfactorily long.
A fuller, yet still refreshing Summer white to serve with lunch. I’m not seeing the depth and complexity of a top Chenin Blanc, but on its own terms I think this wine succeeds well, and manages to present a degree of character one might not expect at this price point. It is interesting to note the label encourages bottle age. Excellent value.
Date tasted: August 2008