The Inquisitive Palate - Seeking Australian Alternative & Emerging Varietal Wines
This blog celebrates Australian wines that are produced from alternative, emerging or rare grape varieties, hopefully piquing interest and inspiring people to broaden their palate and enjoy some of our more esoteric, commercially made libations.
Reviews of wines from boutique producers, of avant-garde blends, of mainstream varieties grown in atypical regions or of organic/biodynamic, natural and small batch wines are posted also.
A non-traditional blend of two classic varieties, Chardonnay and Marsanne (70/30) from the Pfeiffer Wines Carlyle vineyard at Rutherglen. Both varieties were fermented separately in stainless steel tanks before extended batonage and blending.
Light straw yellow colours.
Fresh and vibrant aromatics of
white peach, lemon zest, dried flowers and fig. Some mineral flint action gives more brightness and lift to the tantalising nose.
Expressive, fruit-driven flavours of peach, honeysuckle, citrus and ginger, some ocean spray nuances on a full, rich palate. There's harmonious acidity keeping it all balanced and bright.
An oily lanolin texture gives the mid-palate a soft, round and creamy mouthfeel. Crisp and refreshing spiciness to the long finish.
This is a fresh unwooded version of varieties uncommonly combined together, the Marsanne adding a light fresh 'X' factor to the richer, weightier Chardonnay. Really well made wine. Enjoy now but cellar worthy until 2021. Recommended.
I like the label on this first release Vermentino from Pfeiffer Wines. Eye-catching and informative. For punters not au fait with the variety, the label gives a good word picture of the bottle's contents. Grapes are harvested in the cool of the morning, the colours are an attractive light yellowy green in the glass. The aromas of green apples, pears,
nectarines and lemon myrtle are fresh and fragrant. Pretty to sniff on.
Mid-weight, dry and slatey wine that has a tangy citrus acid line to the mouthfeel. Good mid-palate texture that is
built around spicy and juicy grapefruit, ripe apple and nectarine flavours.
The soft creamy palate bursts with citrus and tropical fruit flavours and with those spicy undertones make it a compelling alternative to Sauvignon Blanc.
Fine chalky tannins and textural white wine. Good length of flavour with a clean, fresh finish.
There is good weight to this very easy to drink first release Vermentino. An impressive debut here by the good people at Pfeiffer Wines. Drink now until 2022. Source: Sample courtesy of Pfeiffer Wines. ABV: 13.0%. Closure: Screw Cap. Price: $ N/A. Rating: 91 Points. Website:http://www.pfeifferwinesrutherglen.com.au/home/
World Malbec Day is on 17 April each year so I thought I'd get in early with this ripping example from St Ignatius Estate, located at Lamplough in the Victorian Pyrenees Wine Region. St Ignatius is a totally in-house business that sets itself high standards of viticultural and winemaking techniques and practices in order to create fine quality wines. Hand-picking all grapes and the careful clonal selection of Malbec are such examples amongst others. Indeed, it is understood that Malbec constitutes the winery's
largest varietal plantings.
The 2014 Contemplation has deep purple colours to the rim.
Vibrant nose of violets,
chocolate, dark plums and blackberries.
Rich and ample
flavours of blackberry, blueberry, liquorice and leather showcase a medium bodied palate that displays a lovely concentration. Fresh and vital feel in contrast to the dense and brooding fruit flavours. Well-balanced acid and gentle
tannins frame this approachable wine and give it a soft and plush velvet mouthfeel.
Long silky herbal tang to the
finish. Just flows down the throat so easily. What I got out of this Malbec is how quality sweet fruit flavours can be so delicious and this wine delivers these in spades. Hard to resist this one. Highly Recommended.
The first Rosé from Vinteloper is a meeting of Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir and Langhorne Creek Pinot Gris. No mention of the percentages but the Gris is fermented on skins for two weeks to get the pale colour while the Noir is whole bunch pressed. Extended lees contact makes for creaminess, texture and ease of drinking.
An artistically designed abstract label. Only 1988 bottles produced of this dry and aromatic pale pink rosé.
Fresh, cherry, strawberry, pear, crunchy apple and a hint of citrus.
The long, dry palate is initially subdued, takes awhile to get going
then builds into a refreshing experience of strawberry, cherry, pear and minerals. It's more spicy than sweet with a glycerol feel shaped by fine chalkiness. Good balance and reach, dry and spicy aftertaste. A perky, thirst-quenching tipple.
No information is available on the label but Ringer Reef says it is predominantly Sangiovese with smaller percentages of Merlot, Nebbiolo and Vespolina. An eclectic blend if ever there was one from the Porepunkah sub-region of the Alpine Valley.
A pale crimson coloured rosé.
On the nose florals, cherry, strawberry and watermelon with a dusting of spice. Fresh and enticing aromatics. The palate is soft and juicy. Strawberry, cherry, dried cranberry and some herbal tinges throughout.Smooth texture, dusty tannins
and zesty acidity with a nice rounded finish.
This is not a complex wine by any stretch but it ticks all the right boxes. Dry, savoury, light-bodied, zesty, refreshing and drinkable. Well priced and very good summer time drinking.
The VSM stands for Vespolina (50%) Sangiovese (25%) and Merlot (25%) and the blend comes from Ringer Reef, a boutique family-owned winery at Porepunkah in Victoria's Alpine Valley. Vines were planted in 1998 with the focus upon Italian and French varieties.
Vespolina is a red grape variety planted in northern Piedmont and in Lombardy. Recent DNA profiling has identified a parent-offspring relationship with Nebbiolo with which it is occasionally blended. The Vespolina variety here is grown at a nearby vineyard for Ringer Reef.
Bright and light ruby red
colours in the glass.
The nose is aromatic and sweetly
perfumed with lifted aromas of plum, red cherry, raspberry, wild flowers and
The lovely perfume continues onto
the palate. Delicious, easy drinking light to medium-weight red wine that has a
dry, savoury, soft mouth-filling finish. Elegant and effortless.
There is a distinctly Italianate feel to this unique blend. Having no oak added and made for early drinking, it's one of those wines perfect with an antipasto platter on a lazy weekend afternoon.
This is the first late harvest wine for Narkoojee. Warm conditions in the 2016 growing season allowed the Viognier fruit to be left on the vine to ripen further and to be made into a semi-sweet style wine. Comes in a 500ML bottle. Pale yellow with greenish hues. The attractive bouquet offers up citrus, orange blossom, dried apricot, musk and spicy oak nuances. The core of dried apricot, cumquat marmalade and chamomile does its thing effortlessly balanced by fresh lemony acidity. The fruit sweetness is on the lighter side and nothing is cloying. Mid palate is delicious and slippery with the finish fresh, clean and dry. A perfect partner to fruit-based desserts or a cheese platter. Like it. Source: Sample courtesy of Narkoojee Wines. ABV: 13.5%. Closure: Screw Cap. Price: $21.00. Rating: 89 Points. Website: https://narkoojee.com/?v=6cc98ba2045f
This is an esoteric pet project of winemaker Alex Byrne who plied his trade originally at Lethbridge and then went on to establish his own brand Byrne Wines and the cool soundingNoisy Ritual, a people-powered urban winery project in Melbourne. The Liquid Rock 'N' Roll label established with partner Kim Farrell accesses premium fruit parcels from various Victorian regions in order to make excellent quality, affordable wines that express not just the terroir but the fun, flavour and feeling of winemaking. A youthful Nebbiolo is not always the most seductive thing to drink but give this a little air time and
you'll notice the cherry, strawberry, florals and a whiff of raisin and bitumen come to the fore. A light purple crimson Nebbiolo wine from Heathcote fruit.
The palate displays dark cherry, ground coffee,
leather and dried herbs. Its refreshing acidity is enhanced by fine grippy tannins.
This is not a shy wine rather sits you back with its concentrated and succulent dark fruited mid-weight palate and lingering savoury finish. Has a rustic, herbal appeal
despite the heat hanging around a fraction at the finish.
Settles well after a couple of
night's drinking but its best lays ahead of it. A rockin' good example from a talented winemaker from a region whose soils are suiting the variety.
Source: Sample courtesy of Liquid Rock 'N' Roll Wines. ABV: 14.0%. Closure: Screw Cap. Price: $40.00. Rating: 90+ Points. Website:http://liquidrocknroll.com
Dr Brian Freeman established Freeman Vineyards in the Hilltops Region of New South Wales in 1999 and to date is credited as having the only Rondinella and Corvina vines planted in Australia. Rondinella is a thick-skinned red Italian grape variety that grows in the Veneto region of northeast Italy and with Corvina is classically used in the popular regional wines Valpolicella and Bardolino as well as also being used in the production of Amarone and Recioto.
This 2016 Freeman Rosé version is at first
interesting in a rustic sort of way then refreshing and easy to imbibe.The saignée method is employed here to bleed or drain the juice after minimal contact with the Rondinella grape skins to produce the wine.
Salmon and pale copper colours. The red cherry, quince and briary
aromas are quite subtle and elegant on the nose.
There is a juicy mouthfeel with dry, savoury earth off-setting the sweet fruit and rosewater flavours. The palate is somewhat creamy but enhanced by a mineral grip, soft, chalky tannins and refreshing acidity. Good balance between the sweet sour cherry flavours and the dry herbal character of the wine.
Intense and powerful rosé for the vinous explorers and adventurers. Super value for a very good wine. A fun fact. In 2005 DNA evidence found that Corvina was a parent variety to Rondinella.