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Exciting new finds from Adelina, Clare Valley

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In pursuit of Grenache I discovered one of my Wines of the Month, Adelina Grenache 2012 (Clare Valley) at the recent Australia Day Tasting.  Not for no reason are there butterflies on the labels of Adelina’s Riesling and Shiraz/ Mataro – winemakers Col McBryde and Jennie Gardner (the team from Some Young Punks) flit happily between Aussie classic and alternative varieties, also making an Arneis and Nebbiolo from Adelaide Hills.  I’ve since been sent samples by UK importer Boutinot which confirmed my excitement about this relatively young label, which was established in 2002.  You’ll find my notes below.

According to Boutinot (who also import Some Young Punks) McBryde and Gardner “see Adelina as a very different beast. The Adelina winemaking philosophy is simple: make wines which exhibit a sense of place, the definition of site, climate, and season, whilst utilising minimalist approaches.”

Adelina Riesling 2014 (Watervale, Clare Valley)

From an elevated single vineyard (Gully View) planted in 1979 at 400m on classic Watervale terra rossa soils.  The brown bottle is a bit of a give away for this Kabinett-style delicate, off-dry Riesling.  Around 14g/l of residual sugar very gently rounds out the palate with no loss of freshness or line thanks to its crisp, persistent green apple acidity. This wine’s Watervale origins are very evident in its effusive floral, talc/bath salts nose and exotic hints of pink grapefruit and grilled lime.  Lip-smacking, very delicious and fine; the perfect aperitif.   12.4%

Adelina Arneis 2012 (Adelaide Hills)

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Made from a few rows in the Bowe Lees vineyards in the Adelaide Hills at 390m.  Twenty per cent of this pale yellow wine was naturally fermented in “neutral” oak.  I liked this wine very much.  It’s a really flavoursome take on Arneis, dry and firm, but with good palate weight and texture, especially on day two when its sweet but pithy, slightly grippy orange, fennel and mineral notes are fleshed out by soft, sweet ripe pears which, I fancy, might have been poached with star anise (get me)!  At any rate there’s an aniseed thread which put me in mind of an Arneis from Piedmont (the Italian variety’s heartland) which I used to sell in Oddbins’ fine wine. Really à point and, I reckon, best enjoyed in the next year or so.  13%

Adelina Nebbiolo 2012 (Adelaide Hills)

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Sticking with Italian, indeed Piedmontese varieties, this wine comes from the Talc Hill vineyard at 400-420m in Adelaide Hills. The Nebbiolo was planted in 1999 on a steep, rocky slope of grey, sandy loam over a clay base, with fractured quartz and ironstone.  True to the variety it is pale garnet in hue despite the wine having spent between 19-51 days on skins prior to being aged for 13 months in barrel!  I suspect this and its rather austere palate (especially on day 2) might also reflect the cool, wet year.

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However, what I really like about this wine is its earthy, spicy complexity.  Even on day one a swirl of the glass readily reveals incense spice, pine needle and complex bitter sweet Campari fruit, herb and spice notes.  In the mouth, these notes mingle with fresh plum juice, cherry lips and sweet raspberry.  A fine, ever-present rub of tannins and clean, bright acidity makes for a firm backbone.  On day two, the fruit seems shyer and the palate more austere, at least fruit-wise. Too “skinny” for me.  But I still enjoyed its sheer complexity of flavour – resinous pine, colts foot, earth and mushroom notes, even a suggestion of truffled honey.  I’d love to see this wine from a warmer, drier vintage.    13.2%

Adelina Grenache 2012 (Clare Valley)

This, one of my February Wines of the Month, comes from a vineyard owned by Jennie Gardner’s family since 1986.  It is propitiously located next to Wendouree and this Grenache is sourced from an elevated (450m) 2 acre block of 80 year old vines on sandy grey loams.  It is an aromatic, very intense, mineral Grenache with beguiling sweet red fruits (plum and raspberry) and soaring violets and sandalwood.  Slinky tannins and mineral sluiced (beautifully integrated) dancing acidity carry a long very lithe finish.  14.8% abv is worn lightly.  Captivating.  The darker-fruited 2010 is very good too.

Adelina Shiraz Mataro 2012 (Clare Valley)

A blend of 85% Shiraz, 15% Mataro from the Spring Farm area.  The Shiraz is Adelina Estate fruit blended with some grapes from the Aberfeldy vineyard while the Mataro is from a site “just up the road”. Sixty-five per cent of the grapes came from centenarian vines.  I have to admit I cannot better the description of this wine on Boutinot’s site:

“Really well defined old vine fruit smacks you in the face with this wine. The first then second sip release a staccato flurry of words through your flowers..fresh..bright.. tight.. clean.. natural acidity..complex.. Almost a grapefruity tightness to this style of wine that opens up, rounds out and grows. The lovely clipped structure needs time or breathe or blood and flesh to hang onto…it’s a zombie wine that wants to dig its claws into something! Serious old vine vineyard from a classic Clare area. Almost challengingly restrained for the impatient.”

For me, even on day two, it’s a touch lean, though there’s much to like about its savouriness (meaty spices), freshness and earthy minerality. I just prefer a bit more flesh to cover the bones.  13.9%

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