I believe this is due for release in late 2010, so I feel lucky to get a sneak preview of one of the few adventurously styled Chenin Blancs in Australia. The 2006 was impressive, even though its vibe seemed in some respects unresolved. Hence, I’m keen to understand how Dowie Doole, with its second Tintookie release, has evolved its idea of Australian Chenin style.
This has been made broadly in the same manner as its predecessor; picked early, barrel fermented, left on lees, etc. Yet the balance is subtly different. The nose is quiet and seems more Loire-like than the 2006: intense minerality and an ephemeral fruit character that seems a cross between stewed apple and something much pricklier. I’m not getting an overt oak influence in the aroma profile, which isn’t to say it’s not there. Indeed, there are wisps of vanilla and spice that combine well with the other aromas and seem subservient to them. Overall, the nose is far from exuberant; rather, it poses little questions and scatters clues in equal measure. Very curious and quite compelling.
The palate is a lot more assertive. My key criticism of the previous release was its forthright, slightly simple fruit presence on the middle palate, which seemed at odds with the sophisticated architecture around it. Pleasingly, this aspect of the 2008 seems better balanced. The entry is immediate and flavoursome, with tight, controlled citrus and apple flavours riding a lovely wave of fine acidity. The shapeliness of the attack is reflected in a mid-palate of excellent definition, where fruit and tantalising minerality are joined by oak and lees derived flavours. Even though it’s very young, the flavours seem well integrated; especially slick is the way the minerality seems to turn subliminally into spicy oak then back again, neither dominating the other. Texture is another highlight; the acidity is fine and even, and there’s a deliciously chalky mouthfeel through the back half of the palate. Excellent drive and continuity of line through the after palate, through to a finish that is impressively long.
Lots of superlatives here; I’m probably biased, as this is my kind of wine. It’s exceptionally dry, no doubt too severe for some tastes, and would seem well prepared for bottle age. A clear step up from the first release, then, suggestive of both smart handling and a firm view on how Chenin ought to taste. Can’t wait to see what’s next.
Update: a couple of nights in the fridge and this wine is showing a lot more worked complexity, in line with receding acidity. It retains the grainy, lees derived flavour and palate texture on the back palate in particular, but the whole is softer, funkier and more expressive. A really interesting wine.