Considered in conventional terms, a more serious wine than its sibling, though to my mind this is an entirely different conversation from whether it’s better or worse. Indeed, I’m on the record as preferring many “second label” wines to their reserve partners, as what constitues a “reserve” wine for some producers strikes me as most unimaginative. Throwing oak, extract and a general exaggeratedness of scale at something does not automatically make a better or more worthy wine. Dowie Doole’s Tintookie poses the question of reserve wines rather differently. For a start, it’s made from Chenin Blanc, so the template for its elevated status isn’t so obvious as some. Indeed, what does a reserve Chenin Blanc look like in the Australian context?
According to Dowie Doole, it has a whole lot more winemaking for starters, and a price tag to match (though still rather reasonable when placed in context — this is a single vineyard wine made from seriously old vines). Interestingly, my initial reaction on smelling this wine was that it shares some characteristics with aged Hunter Semillon; specifically, a cheesy note along with a bit of toasty development. First impressions are where such similarities end, though. There’s marked minerality on the nose, along with high toned citrus and a general sense of control. I’m not sure that it smells terribly similar to its Loire models, but that’s a good thing in my book. This is its own wine.
The palate shows quite full, intense fruit flavours that nonetheless sit within a tight, textural, minerally context. Good impact on entry with immediate flavour and mouth-watering (natural) acidity. Bursting forth from this framework is juicy, slightly simple citrus fruit on the middle palate, almost painfully intense, and for me a little at odds with the restraint and complexity shown elsewhere. A lovely dry, textural after palate leads to a long, flinty and quite beautiful finish.
This is a really fascinating wine, though I’m not sure it coheres as a style from top to bottom. I am wishing for a more extreme expression of the fruit, less luscious and more ethereal, which I suspect would complement the character of the acid and the textural inputs. Perhaps some further bottle age is what I’m really looking for. A really worthwhile wine and one I’m glad exists.
I’m trying this again tonight, and it’s even more fascinating. It’s a very lively style, with a tiny bit of spritzig that freshens the palate even as rather delicious aged flavours flow freely. Dryly textural, raspy almost, quite complex. I’ve been kindly sent a sample of the 2008 Tintookie Chenin and will endeavour to taste and write it up soon.