September Wines of the Month: a favourite Chardonnay & uplifting Shiraz
My September Wines of the Month are two terrific Western Australian wines which entranced me on my recent visit. I’ve been a fan of Cullen Chardonnay since my Oddbins’ Fine Wine days when, even then, I couldn’t resist buying a bottle (the 2002, still a stand out). The 2012 is about to arrive on these shores and is an utterly compelling Chardonnay guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. As is La Violetta Up! Shiraz 2013 from the cooler climes of Mount Barker in Great Southern. Here are my notes:
Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay 2012 (Margaret River)
In stark contrast with many a top Australian Chardonnay Cullen Kevin John lets the variety as opposed to winemaking artefact lead the way. It makes for a damn delicious, exuberant wine with great generosity of contrapuntally sweet, honeyed rock melon and racier grapefruit and lime; slinky pear too. An undertow of tangy, incisive acidity – a juicy acidity which is absolutely part and parcel of the fruit – carries successive waves of subtly cedar and nougat kissed fruit to a super-long, reverberating finish which echoes with honey and casablanca white lilies. In fact so long it hardly seems to finish, such is its force of character (so very Cullen), impression (weight) and sheer intensity of flavour. A potent, heady Chardonnay which will age superbly and, though powerful, worked well with Cullen restaurant’s Shark Bay scallops and manjimup truffle. So it was funny to spot, as I wrote this up, that Bristol’s Riverstation are hosting a dinner with Vanya Cullen on 17 September and pairing the 2011 Kevin John with scallops and truffle. 13%
Incidentally, I also enjoyed the 2007 vintage of Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay while at Cullen and, on holiday last month, took a bottle of the 2009 to Pembrokeshire (having too eagerly consumed my stash of 2007). Both were damn delicious and still marked by a youthful vigour and intensity – as a vertical tasting of Cullen Chardonnay going back another decade proved, if you can resist, it ages wonderfully well.
La Violetta Up! Shiraz 2013 (Mount Barker)
During my travels I enjoyed a really exciting tasting with Andrew Hoadley of La Violetta whose talent keeps pace with his voracious appetite for experimentation. The Shiraz comes from the Xabegras vineyard and around 20% is whole bunch fermented. It is gently pressed straight to barrel. A very deep hue with a youthfully pink rim. The nose is deep and nuanced, its deliciously pure, translucent fruit shot through with black pepper and white flowers. Characteristics which follow through on a lifted palate which really lets the blackcurranty fruit sing. Chalky tannins and animated, fresh, almost crunchy acidity add to its sense of frame and elegance. Terrific, with lovely resonating pepper spice through the finish. Uplifting and so very well named in this vintage. 13.6%