Yesterday’s Pinot Grigio underwhelmed me, and I wondered at the time whether it was my general lack of enthusiasm for the style as much as the wine itself. On the tasting bench tonight, I have a wine from the same vintage and producer, but made from a grape for which I have much more affection: Riesling. Let’s see how we go.
The nose is subtle, with prickly wisps of lemon rind, minerality and edges of candied peel. It brings to mind watercolour and pastel shades, which is pretty I suppose but also a bit wishy-washy. I want more here: some impact or at least a twisted sense of humour. Some air and a warmer serving temperature help it to show to better advantage. As it warms, there’s greater volume and an emerging thickness to the aroma that you may or may not like.
he palate is altogether more satisfying. Entry is tingly with sherbet-like acid and some straightforward lemon juice flavour. This lemon juice is the most prominent flavour component right along the line, though it’s joined through the middle palate by savoury minerals and higher toned florals. I find the flavour profile a bit clumsy and straightforward, particularly for a wine style where delicacy and finesse are often highly valued. The acid is also a bit tiring after a few mouthfuls. However, it has impact and decent intensity. After palate and finish show good persistence.
>Another mixed bag here. Neither Louee wine tasted has nailed the style sought, but both are cleanly made, so perhaps a bit more experimentation is in order.
I don’t remember ever having tasted a Pinot Grigio from Mudgee, so this wine is a first for me. The back label suggests the Grigio style (earlier picked, lower alcohol) suits this vineyard’s grapes well. Key words are light, fresh and clean. No argument from me there. This is a dry white made in a mode unlikely to cause offence.
If you think that’s a dig, then you’re probably right, although there’s a lot right with this wine. For starters, it’s very cleanly made, showing sharp aromas of quince, white flowers and the heat of Summer on ripe foliage. It strikes me as an aroma profile that lacks character and distinctiveness but which is nevertheless very correct.
The palate shows lovely acidity and really well-judged phenolic bitterness. So, mostly a structural experience, and the flavour, such as it is, serves to illustrate the wine’s foundations rather than take centre stage. The entry is deceptively light, filling quickly through a middle palate that hints at a more satisfying opulence of mouthfeel. Flavour is at its most intense through the after palate, where a nice lilt of honeycomb and florals carries through to a mostly textural finish.
You’ll get more flavour from a good Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc but, as it is, not a bad example of the style.
An organic wine from Mudgee, this comes complete with a few years’ bottle age and a cork seal (!). It forms the latest chapter in my search for great Australian Merlot, a search that has provided flashes of aesthetic satisfaction in amongst large swathes of disappointing mediocrity. This wine is promising in terms of the manner of its creation: fruit from a single block, hand picked and passed through a largely “non-interventionist” (don’t get me started) winemaking regime. So far so good.
There was an odd sediment in the neck of the bottle that I had to dislodge before pouring. I was momentarily fearful of spoilage, but the bottle is sound. Aromas of clean red fruit, not plums so much as raspberries and brandied cherries, with a distinctive edge of undergrowth mixed with damp earth This isn’t the red earthiness of Hunter wines, but rather something more decaying, autumnal. There’s a twiggy sharpness at the back of the nose, perhaps related to oak. Good depth of aroma profile.
The palate possesses a thick, textured mouthfeel that, oddly, feels related to the earthy aromas on the nose. Immediate flavour and texture on entry, with quite bright acidity ushering complex red and black fruit flavours onto the middle palate, where they are joined by black olives and brown earth. The wine is full and rich-feeling, not plush so much as charismatic. I wish for slightly greater definition to the flavours; I enjoy Merlot that embodies the paradox of soft fruit flavours, cleanly articulated. But there’s no lack of flavour, and this continues well through the after palate, where oak and brandied fruit take over. The tannins are full and velvety, very much present even at this stage of the wine’s life. A dry, raspy finish that shoots up into higher toned fruit flavours and which persists well.
There’s a lot to like here, though the overall impression is of rough-hewn wood rather than polished sculpture. Potential plus, and a label to watch.
It strikes me as difficult to write about this wine without making its preservative free, organic status central to the discussion, purely because such wines are relatively uncommon. This wine understands the value of rarity; its back label acknowledges it has been made to meet an “overwhelming demand” for such styles. I don’t know enough about the market to know if this is accurate or anticipatory. In any case, it appears this isn’t a one-trick pony. For starters, the fruit originates from low-yielding, unirrigated vines and was handpicked; hardly the most cost-effective way of supplying a niche market that (and perhaps I’m being unkind) may not be driven primarily by a passion for beautiful wine.
So I approach it assuming an integrity of intent, and am pleased to note it is, at the very least, soundly made. It’s also extremely young; there’s even some spritz in the glass that seems to have wandered in from a bottle of Hunter Semillon. Given its age and style, the flavour profile is inevitably bright and redolent of fermentation esters as much as fruit notes. I’m a little torn; on the one hand, my instinct is to suggest leaving it for a few months to settle, but I’ve no experience with this type of wine so wouldn’t have a clue how it will evolve.
The palate is light and quite savoury, with crunchy (perhaps overly assertive) acid cutting through moderately intense fruit flavours that tend towards the red fruit spectrum. What tannins there are come across as chalky, loose and pleasantly textural. There’s basically no complexity, and nor would one expect there to be. What’s important here is a flavour profile that avoids obvious, sweet fruit, and which I suspect is very food friendly.
I’m not sure this wine has a place in my life, but it’s nice to know there’s a worthwhile example available to those who value the style.