Alternative Australia: Sauvignon but not as you know it & a fine Syrah
A recent article by Alder Yarrow about how individual perceptions colour our assessment of wines sprang to mind at Les Caves de Pyrene’s Alternative Australians’ event, featuring the wines of Anton von Klopper, Tom Shobbrook and Patrick Sullivan. While I loved Sullivan’s Syrah (reviewed below), my perceptions of the (unorthodox) Sauvignon Blancs were clouded by my expectations of this grape. Varietally speaking, it didn’t do what I expected it to do and that got in the way of my appreciation of the wines.
Perhaps it would have been better not to know their varietal composition? But I’m sure I’d have popped the varietal question and ended up in the same conundrum! Perhaps, bottom line, I like more fruit. But if you asked me what kind of wines do it for me, I’d probably focus on minerality, perfume, freshness and texture, not fruit. And, with reference to the Loire’s terroir-driven, savoury, textural Sauvignons, I say bring it on.
Which, together with its splash of gooseberry fruit, perhaps explains why my pick of the bunch was the earthier, savoury, more sensual style of von Klopper’s Domaine Lucci Sauvignon 2013 – nuttily leesy and fuller-bodied with rolling acidity and a persistent, mineral finish. The Tom Shobbrook Giallo and Patrick Sullivan Breakfast Sauvignons seemed terse in comparison, a little hard and tight-lipped with their atypical fruit (blood orange and pink grapefruit).
So, much as I thought I subscribed to a fairly broad church of Sauvignon, perhaps I’d better keep an eye on this new initiative from the organisers of the Concours Mondial du Sauvignon aimed at exploring Sauvignon’s lesser known qualities and idiosyncrasies!
Returning to Patrick Sullivan Laffer Syrah 2012, very much my favourite wine of the night, it ticked all the boxes for me – minerality, perfume, freshness and texture seamlessly and sensuously delivered within a finely honed, detailed frame. A lovely, lucid Yarra Valley Syrah with joyous peppery lift and an undertow of iodine to its pure, very fresh red and black berry fruits. And great varietal typicity!