Dowie Doole is, somewhat daringly, a Chenin Blanc specialist when it comes to white wines. This isn’t entirely without precedent in the McLaren Vale, but remains unusual by any measure. This label, the standard Chenin, has evolved over the past few vintages to the point where it far outstrips its price tag in quality terms. Each year seems to bring greater nuance, more complexity, tighter stylistic focus; the current release continues this line.
It can be hard to know what to expect from Chenin, so divergent are the styles that can be crafted from this fickle, homesick grape. Dowie Doole takes its inspiration from Loire models, emphasising the varietal’s tension between apple fruit and nervy, mineral acid. Hence, although the nose promises some lusciousness of character, there’s an underlying savouriness, quite prickly and vivacious, that, for me, is the true feature of this wine. The aroma profile moves between apple flesh, the barest hint of tropical fruit, and the smell of rain on hot rocks. Unsettling and beautiful.
The palate delivers what the aroma suggests; a deceptively fruit-forward entry gives way to a much more complex, sweet-savoury middle palate, supported by deliciously vibrant acidity. I’d love to think Sauvignon Blanc is a gateway drug to this sort of wine, something equally refreshing but with an altogether more unusual flavour profile. The after palate sings with savouriness and apple skins, before a clean, fresh finish enlivens the mouth.
I can’t quite believe this is only $16 retail. It would be value at twice the price and strikes me as the best Dowie Doole Chenin Blanc (excluding the fascinating Tintookie wines) I’ve yet tasted.