Frontiers come in many forms: literal, metaphorical, geographical, philosophical, technical and even personal.
In winemaking, they include some very real and non-negotiable frontiers such as geology and geography, as well as some frontiers that, with the help of technology, experience and imagination, have shown to be more malleable. These wines or the places they come from have, at some point, dabbled in the idea of a frontier.
Devil’s Corner Riesling 2012
Tasmania is the most southerly place one can grow grapes to make wine in Australia; a viticultural last frontier as it were. Already a lauded winemaking region, especially for Pinot Noir, sparkling wines, Chardonnay and Riesling, demand on the land will likely increase as climate change creeps in and winegrowers seek cooler swathes of land. Ironic that what was once considered the last frontier for those we knew not what to do with, is now the last frontier for many positive reasons. In recent years, some of Australia’s big name producers have bought a slice of Australia’s viticultural frontier, including Brown Brothers who have bought the Tamar Ridge and Devil’s Corner labels into its fold. This wine from the Tamar Valley has an attractive nose of citrus and floral notes; the palate brims with enlivening acid, citrus, jasmine and finishes with a long and lovely length.
Crittenden Estate Los Hermanos Saludo al Txakoli 2012
In 1982, Mornington Peninsula wine pioneer Garry Crittenden planted five acres of vines on the new wine frontier of the Mornington Peninsula. In so doing he doubled the size of land under vine in just one weekend. The Mornington Peninsula and Crittenden Estate have come a long way since then; unsuitable varieties have been swapped for those better suited to the maritime region, monoculture has been swapped for biological soil management, French varieties are celebrated alongside Spanish ones, and where once it was Garry at the helm, now he has the help of his son, celebrated winemaker Rollo Crittenden to take the winery into new frontiers. This is one of Rollo’s Spanish inspired wines; a wine guzzled in tapas bars in the Basque region of Spain where Rollo was inspired to make the wine. Pour from a height to awaken the gentle fizz and enjoy this summer drinking, food friendly white wine. A new frontier for some of the region’s pioneers.
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2012
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc broke a new frontier and introduced the world to the wonders of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. When it was first unleashed, it took the wine-drinking world by storm. Cloudy Bay offered an entirely new style of wine that was a distinct, bright, alarmingly expressive wine and just what people wanted at the time. There was not enough of it and shipments could not come fast enough. Although Cloudy Bay was the cult wine of the style, the world had been introduced to a whole new frontier with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. This latest release of the original style is a harmonious and restrained expression of the wine. It has lively citrus, herb and gooseberry notes and an ever-so-subtle texture relaxes a fine line of acid. A fine expression of an iconic wine. If you’re lucky enough to visit Marlborough, you’ll see that very scene on the label – the Richmond Ranges, fading out on the horizon on a cool and bright landscape.
Kooyong Estate Pinot Noir 2010
The process of understanding any new frontier – coastline, ocean, archipelago, mountain range or country – is one of acquiring detail, of sharpening the point of focus with each new aspect. When it comes to wine this zoning in reveals new frontiers of winemaking and viticulture. The Mornington Peninsula, young in any terms let alone considering wine has been made for more than 7,000 years, has benefited recently from a better understanding of place – a greater understanding of soils, of the varieties that grow well, of the wine styles such sites create. In general, a better understanding of how things work. Sandro Mosele has been prominent in expressing such an understanding of place through the range of Kooyong Wines. The wines range from those made from estate fruit to those that narrow in on the detail of site with the single vineyard series. This, the Kooyong Estate Pinot Noir 2010, has an elegant and berry scented perfume with underlining dark and earthy notes, wonderful acid and lovely fine tannins.
These reviews first appeared in the print edition of the The Melbourne Review.