Category Archives: Australian Sauvignon Blanc

Jul 07 2016

Leeuwin Estate Masterclass with Winemaker Phil Hutchison

Posted on July 07, 2016 | By merrill@cellarit.com

2014 Art Series SBRecently the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti Brown singled out “eight stellar” Western Australia producers “who are killing-it when it comes to innovation, quality and coaxing the terroir into the bottle: Cloudburst, Cullen, Frankland Estate, Leeuwin Estate, Moss Wood, Peccavi, Plantagenet and Woodlands.” (Western Australia Killing-it, 4 March 2016, eRobertparker.com)

Of course, to see Margaret River pioneer Leeuwin Estate on this list is no surprise. Still owned by its founders Denis and Tricia Horgan and now under the direction of their children and grandchildren, Leeuwin Estate has enjoyed an enviable reputation for its world-class wines for over 30 years. Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine, for example, lists a staggering 16 vintages, dating back to 1987, as top vintages for the Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay – one of only 21 Australian wines ranked “Exceptional” in the classification.

But while Leeuwin Estate has stuck to its knitting, so to speak, by keeping the focus on what does it best – chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon – innovation is still at the forefront of their winemaking approach. Indeed, one of the highlights of a recent Vintage Cellars Double Bay Masterclass with winemaker Phil Hutchison was a single variety not usually associated with Western Australia – the Leeuwin Estate Art Series Sauvignon Blanc 2014.

Typically, Margaret River wineries blend sauvignon blanc with semillon to create a Bordeaux-style white wine. But the 2014 Leeuwin Estate Art Series vintage is 100% sauvignon blanc. As Hutchison explained, the sauvignon blanc grapes are actually sourced from an 18 year-old vineyard about 20 km south of Margaret River. Here the evening southerly winds dramatically cool down the nighttime temperature in the vineyards, extending the ripening period just enough to significantly lift the subtle lemon, lime and apple aromatics in the wine. Innovative winemaking techniques, like 50% … Read the rest

Nov 11 2015

Masterclass: Billy Button and Mayford Wines – Putting the Alpine Valleys Region on the Map

Posted on November 11, 2015 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Two very talented winemakers, Jo Marsh of Billy Button and Eleana Anderson of Mayford, are neighbours and good friends in the beautiful Alpine Valleys wine region, an area that covers the foothills of the Victorian alps and borders with King Valley to the west and Beechworth to the north. Last week the pair shared the stage at a very interesting masterclass at Different Drop in Pyrmont.

We were welcomed with a glass of the 2015 Billy Button ‘The Torment’ Riesling (King Valley) on arrival. This is the only wine from Jo’s extensive range made with fruit not sourced from the Alpine Valleys.

Jo MarshJo said that she couldn’t resist the opportunity to put her own stamp on one of her favourite varieties when offered a parcel of grapes from an excellent well-established vineyard in King Valley’s Whitlands.

Fermented with indigenous yeasts, the juice was given time on full solids to add texture and flinty, savoury notes to the wine. But the fuller bodied style didn’t detract from the pristine citrus flavoured fruit, which was buoyed by a laser-like acidity. An unusual style of riesling and one of my favourite wines of the night.

Another highlight was the 2015 Billy Button ‘The Feisty’ Friulano.  Jo explained that she first came across friulano, a grape that originates from the Friuli-Venezie-Giulia region of North-East Italy, when she took up the position of Head winemaker at Feathertop, one of the Alpine Valleys oldest wineries. (Jo was previously head winemaker at Seppelt.)

 

Billy Button range

‘The Feisty’ Friulano is made in a style which also lends texture and complexity to a very fruity variety. Approximately two-thirds of the wine, for example, was barrel fermented in old French oak. When the 2014 inaugural vintage of this wine was released it attracted a number of standout reviews.… Read the rest

Apr 04 2011

Geoff Weaver: Taking Australian Sauvignon Blanc in a New Direction

Posted on April 04, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In my post, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Master Class, 2 March 2011, I talked about how New Zealand winemakers had developed new styles of sauvignon blanc that, while retaining the style’s signature vibrant acidity, exhibit more restrained fruit tropical aromatics and a more evolved mid-palate with a longer, creamier finish.

In Australia, Geoff Weaver of the eponymous Adelaide Hills winery has taken Australia’s sauvignon blanc in a new direction with his Ferus Sauvignon Blanc. As Weaver explains, the aim was to create a wine reflective of its vineyard origin and with as little intervention as possible.

Like his innovative New Zealand counterparts, Weaver uses indigenous yeast from the vineyard. The wine spends 12 months on lees in second use French oak barriques with some stirring.  The result is a rich yet understated and less fruity aromatic sauvignon blanc with a rich mid-palate exhibiting creamy and lanolin notes, and a lingering mineral finish.

First made in 2004, the wine has been very well received.  James Halliday gave the 2009 vintage 96 points and included it in his Top 100 Wines for 2010:

This is “the other” Weaver sauvignon blanc, wild fermented in French oak barriques and given 12 months lees contact. No acid was added nor was the wine fined. A striking contrast to all other Australian sauvignon blancs that delivers great complexity and equally great intensity. It also has greater longevity than other sauvignon blancs. (James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion)

Geoff Weaver also makes the highly acclaimed Lenswood Sauvignon Blanc and the Lenswood Chardonnay. Other top wines from the range include rieslingpinot noir and  cabernet sauvignon merlot.

Weaver is one of the pioneers of the Adelaide Hills regions. The former chief winemaker for Hardy’s, Weaver, and his wife Judith. planted the vineyard … Read the rest

Apr 04 2011

Adelaide Hills: A Diversity of Wines of Distinction

Posted on April 04, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

I’m spending next Friday in Adelaide Hills, and in preparation for my trip I thought I would research the best wineries in the region, so I know exactly where to go and what to taste. Hard work, I know!

As many of you are aware, Adelaide Hills has developed an outstanding reputation for sauvignon blanc. Three of the top six 2009 sauvignon blancs (96 points) in James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion 2011 edition are from the Adelaide Hills: Dandelion Vineyards Wishing Clock of the Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc, Geoff Weaver Lenswood Sauvignon Blanc and Shaw + Smith Sauvignon Blanc.

The region is also highly respected for its elegant and complex Burgundian-style chardonnay. Fruit for Penfolds multi-region Yattarna – the 2007 vintage was the highest rated chardonnay (97 points) in Halliday’s Wine Companion, is sourced from the Adelaide Hills. Ashton Hills, Grosset, Michael Hall, Shaw + Smith and Ngeringa also make outstanding examples. Tapanappa, a joint venture between Brian Croser, Jean-Michel Cazes of Chateau Lynch-Bages in Pauillac and Societe Jacques Bollinger, makes the very highly regarded Tiers Vineyard Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay.

Petaluma, of course, makes an excellent range of sparking wines from its Piccadilly Valley  vineyard, including the Croser Piccadilly Valley Pinot Noir Chardonnay NV Sparkling and the vintage Croser Late Disgorged Piccadilly Vally Pinot Noir Chardonnay Sparkling. Piccadilly Valley and Lenswood are the two registered sub-regions of the Adelaide Hills.

I was interested to learn that Shaw + Smith had won the Trophy for Best Australian Shiraz over 10 GBP at the 2009 Decanter World Wine Awards for the 2007 vintage of the Shaw + Smith Shiraz. Most people don’t normally associate the Adelaide Hills with shiraz, but a number of wineries in the area, including Bird in Hand and Romney Read the rest