there are some new reviews oozing though here, but we're not deckin em up all pretty til we work out an otherwise unborn style for this sleazy rube we call drankster


that's a George Grainger Aldridge cartoon ... obviously a pre-screwcap man

10 October 2008


Dowie Doole Tintookie McLaren Vale Chenin Blanc 2006
$30; 11.5% alcohol, Diam cork; 94+++ points
It’s not sauvignon blanc, but if you imagine the standard DDCB as a Sancerre, this is the Pouilly-fumé. And Loire it most certainly is in style. Old oak, long lees, aboriginal yeast, Blewett Springs sands, some age, acrid guano edge, chicory, whitloof, pepper, Africa ... that might not seem to add up to any bit of France to you, but it’s the cheapest way I know of getting there. This is the best Australian chenin yet made. It’s complex, elegant, acidulous, bone dry white wine of seriously royal breeding. And it’s cheap. It’ll cellar too: twenty years. Drink it with a woman.
Coriole Vineyards The Optimist Reserve McLaren Vale Chenin Blanc 2005
$??; 13% alcohol; cork; 93 points
Mark Lloyd’s continuing romance dance with chenin takes a dry turn with this austere, removed, tease of a reserve. Jeez I hate that word. We used to have church picnics in a reserve, and all we got was cordial and barley water, both of which I soon discovered were much better fermented. But this is seriously reserved wine, savoury in the sense of green salad as much as fruit salad - say rocket, butterhead lettuce, sorrel and Bartlett pear, with green acid oil and fresh cider vinegar. It’s appetising, slender and vivacious; the aftertaste bony, long and drying, like witloof. Whiting in beurre blanc; salad. (17 AUG 8)
Dowie Doole McLaren Vale Chenin Blanc 2008
$16; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; 92+++ points
Forget your half-cut pinots gris; give your Kiwi savvys-B away on Norwood Parade; tip your viognier in the cassoulet and drink this. The stunning new chenins of Coriole now have a sister over the ridge: this wine is delicious, crunchy and swift in a manner that makes me wish I was Elsie the quarterhorse who’s outside gutsing herself on the bright spring sward. It smells, indeed, like a seaside meadow of soursob, jonquill and verbena, with clumps of gorse just coming into flower. Its flavour is at once uplifting yet somehow chalky and authoritative, like sauvignon rarely is. And it’ll cellar. Fish.
Coriole Vineyards McLaren Vale Chenin Blanc 2008
$??; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 91+++ points
He’s a bit coy about it, but I reckon this is the driest Coriole chenin Mark Lloyd has released in, what, thirty years of constant production? It’s a Loire Valley variety, where it’s used for everything from fizz (unripe grapes) to sticky (ripe enough for botrytis). (Try the ’55 Moulin Touchais). It tends to be like freshly waxed apples when dry-ish, as this is (read bone), and I reckon it’s better with tapas and mezes than frigging Marlborough sauvignon blanc will ever be, specially when it’s this crunchy and bright. Try it with those skinless Greek sausages with orange peel in ’em.
Kalleske - Clarry’s Barossa White 2006
($16; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 89 points)
I met this lovely amongst some very famous internationals at Julian Castagna’s mindblowing biodynamic workshop at Kalleske’s. It equalled the best (tres $$$) whites there. A vibrantly fresh 50-50 of chenin blanc and semillon from the organic gardens to which Clarry Kalleske devoted seventy years, it’s like a savvy b/semi with slightly waxy honeydew instead of lawn clippings. Perfect with T-Chow steamed flounder, Chinese broccoli with anchovies on the side. (9.12.06)

Cape Mentelle Georgiana Margaret River 2008
$19; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 88 points
“The blend of these varieties” says the back. Which varieties? Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey, the owner of this winery, must think we’re French, and no longer care. That’s dumb. Last year’s model was chenin blanc, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and semillon. Maybe they think we don’t like chenin blanc. Maybe they haven’t heard of the stunning chenins – like Dowie Doole Tintookie, Coriole Reserve and Jardim do Bomfim - which sell very well under the proud chenin moniker, no? Mystified bitchery aside, this is very cool wine for its price. The aroma’s gunflinty, probably from aboriginal yeast as much as geology and soil, and the wine’s lean and drying and hollers huskily for lemon-pepper squid and an icebucket in the sun. No simple primary fruit here, other than a twist of pithy lemon in the tail, and some nicely modest viscosity. The bouquet and the texture are what makes it work.
Dowie Doole McLaren Vale Chenin Blanc 2006
($15.50; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; 88 points)
I revere the Blewett Sands. They’re not sea sand: but the totally weathered remnant of the huge ranges that spawned glaciers on the Fleurieu. They make wines of scary quality. This old-vine chenin, grown by Lulu Lunn at Blewett Springs, is typically waxy but lemony, and while soft of texture, it’s tightened by persistent acid, reflective of the waxed lemons at the start: the best Aussie chenin I know. Perfect with real quiche and Lulu’s Zululu Chilli Kasundi. (16.12.6)
Longhop Adelaide Plains La Quattro Old Vine 2008
$??; 11% alcohol; screw cap; 88 points
Chenin blanc, riesling, semillon and sauvignon blanc be here in roughly equal proportion. Regardless of the sense of it, all were planted on the sunbaked alluvium of the north Adelaide Plains after World War II, when returned Australian soldiers, Italian prisoners of war and European immigrants from many countries pioneered the district’s market gardening and viticulture. The wine smells pretty and fresh, with honeydew melon and prosciutto fat aromas. The palate’s pleasantly light and crisp, and seems perfectly tailored to suit cockles with fresh herbs and spaghetti.

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