Swinging Bridge Mrs Payten Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2012

I want to love every wine I taste. It seems to me there’d be no greater pleasure for a wine enthusiast than to find in each wine, familiar or not, a world of pleasure and revelation. Wines that fall short, then, aren’t just less enjoyable, they’re a little bit heartbreaking too.

Wines often brashly flash their most prominent assets — single vineyard! old vines! French oak! — and why not? In this age of obligatory opinions, snap judgements and forced rankings, producers must surely feel they are putting their wines into the vinous equivalent of a speed dating night, if not a boxing ring. You’ve got mere seconds to establish credibility and generate an attraction. So I don’t begrudge the, of late, spectacular proliferation of single vineyard wines in Australia. I will note, though, that a single vineyard wine, for me, creates a certain expectation. Of distinctiveness perhaps, and quality too, something worth singling out. I approach this wine, then, with heightened anticipation.

So as it presents as slightly blurry, without sufficient articulation of and insight into the flavours it obviously has, I feel frustrated by the opaque view it gives me of its raison d’être – the vineyard from which it came. It’s far from generic tasting, and there are some funky flavours atop fruit that veers between ripe pineapple and much more nuanced, savoury citrus. There are also darker notes that speak of lees and a certain minerality. But there’s a dull edge to the whole that, for me, obscures each component. Structure is relaxed, robbing the wine of tension and fattening its mid-palate, although I do like the chalky texture through the finish. There’s also a lack of intensity to the fruit, making the wine feel like it’s playing too quietly to get me moving. I just want more — more intensity, more definition, more overt distinctiveness. I want this wine to sing its vineyard, so I can hear its colours and enjoy its view.

It might fairly accuse me of not being a good listener; I’m just a bit sad about what we could’ve been, this wine and me.

Swinging Bridge
Price: $32
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Sample

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