Given it is one of the few producers in Australia serious about Chenin Blanc, Dowie Doole’s Chenins always get me extra excited when they arrive in the mail. Straight into the fridge for this and a tasting at the first opportunity.
Riesling is often championed as the most transparent of grapes, clearly showing variations in site and vintage. I’d argue that Chenin shares a good amount of this transparency, and certainly Dowie Doole’s regular label shows interesting variation year-on-year. Having said that, this shares a degree of stylistic DNA with its immediate predecessor, particularly with regard to a sense of tautness and a thread of minerality that runs through the whole.
The nose is cool and steely at first, a nice edge of flint leading to suggestions of fuller, almost tropical fruit. There’s a wild streak of overgrown weeds in the aroma profile, somewhat heady though not nearly as obvious as the grassiness one sometimes sees in Sauvignon Blanc, for example. The palate hasn’t quite come together yet, but it’s on its way. True to the varietal, acid is present in abundant quantities, lending a sandpaper texture as well as a sherbet edge to the lemon and stonefruit characters. There’s good impact and reasonable intensity, the wine’s weight counterbalancing its edgy structure.
I think a few months in bottle will help the individual elements to settle a bit, though for lovers of a more extreme style, the wine in its present state may be preferable. Either way, the flavours are extremely unusual in the Australian context, and I’m quite blown away by how daring this label has become for a mainstream $16 white. A curio for sure, but so much more too. This is one of the better alternative summer whites on the market.