The 2017 Frankland Estate riesling release across the four style was an exciting time for me. I have long held the view that the rieslings from the Great Southern (Australia’s largest sub-region encompassing Frankland River, Porongurup, Albany, Denmark and Mt Barker) kick it alongside some of the best in Australia, and so, it was a real treat to see them side by side with winemaker, Hunter Smith.
2017 Alter Weg Riesling
Green apple, white pepper, the acidity is bright but round and soft. Citrus blossom, the best kind. Talcy. That lovely musky character. Delicate and fine – there is a sherbet life to the palate – my mouth tingles! Certified organic. Love this. 5/6gm RS/L 94+pts.
2017 Poison Hill Riesling
Ph: 2.8-3. Certified organic – first vintage. 14kms north of Isolation Ridge vineyard. The nose here is astounding. Orange blossom, hints of eucalypt, white currant, white pepper. Such intensity on the palate! Like a laser beam! A steely backbone, lovely minerality, it’s so lusciously green. Petals, ripe granny smiths, lovely phenolics. Will live for an age. Jesus. Maybe the wine of the day. 96+ pts
2017 Isolation Ridge Riesling
5% oak. Here… summer flowers, a dusty sandy character. The palate is textured and finely structured. The acid structure is different to the two wines above – tighter and more lifted. Clarity! Purity and finesse. The youth has the complexity and power all packed away but the length is key here. Lovely lovely lovely. 95 pts.
2017 Smith Cullam Riesling
19gms RS. Tightrope of tension: sugar / acidity. Rounded yet fine. Great length of favour. The palate has hints of paperbark, bush florals, red apple skins, lovely minerality and texture. Lemon sherbet, finesse, body. Note: I recently looked at a 2010 S.C. riesling and it was just majestic. With 8 yrs under the belt it had just bloomed into something wonderful. Could have been the perfect food match of pig skin noodles at Liberte in Albany… but nonetheless, it made an indelible impression. 95+ pts.
ISOLATION RIDGE VINEYARD RIESLING VERTICAL
*longer lees contact style. Newer vintages with oak.
5% oak. Summer florals, a dusty sandy character. The palate is textured and finely structured. The acid structure is different to the two wines above – tighter and more lifted. Clarity! Purity and finesse. The youth has the complexity and power all packed away but the length is key here. 95 pts
Picked earlier because acids started to drop away. Riper and rounder, but the flavours are more restrained. More immediate concentration. Older style built for the long term. Some in the room said that this was the riesling of the day. That was not my reading, although it was very good. 94 pts
“This is the vintage that got us into Halliday’s Top 3 Rieslings of the year” (H. Smith). Starting to show age complexity – it manifests as spice, braised apple. There is a lift and life here that is magnificent. Startlingly good in fact. 94+ pts
Toasted honeysuckle hints on the nose – acidity is unchanged, here we start to see the majesty of aged riesling. Tightly coiled, complex and layered. 91 pts
And here… if possible this is even lighter in colour than the 2008… and ageing more slowly. What a cracker. This is less than half way through its life. Astounding. (There is an interesting story here about it being perceived as not being good enough on release for export… despite being ordered… so they were left with 400 dozen in the winery until not that long ago… lucky for us.) 95 pts
1994 Rhine Riesling – cork
Bright yellow in colour, again the acidity is rod-straight and coiled. Toasted honeycomb, ripe and full. Lots of spice and texture, it has become velvety with age. Perhaps, it is at peak drinking now. Anything older and it will lose what fruit it has. 93pts.
ISOLATION RIDGE VINEYARD SHIRAZ VERTICAL – $40RRP
*graphite, chalk, minerality abounds in recent releases. Shallow ferment in 2015/2016. 55% of this wine is exported.
2016 PRE – RELEASE (release date: May 2019)
Blueberry, raspberry, pomegranate, star anise, black pepper, red apple skins, strawberry. The palate has silky fine tannins, velvety. There is savoury spice and a graphite edge to the palate. Wonderful, world-class wine. Great length of flavour. 15% wholebunch. 25-30% new oak. 7T to the hectare. Picked late April. 95 pts
2015 NEW RELEASE (release date: WC 14/5/18)
Taking on darker, more savoury characters – hints of hoisin, blackberry, iodine, elegance of tannins and elongated flavours. Many many layers. 5% whole bunch. 94 pts
“This vintage started to touch on the style of shiraz that we wanted to make.” Refined and spicy, definitely a difference in style to the two newer wines. It is wonderful and complete, showing what 6 years in bottle will do. Blood plum, mulberry, balsamic poached fruit. (“tougher wine” – RJ). 93 pts
*note above wines all show a very similar colour! The 2010 extended maceration and a deeper ferment.
1999 – cork
Spicy Asian flavours. Much of the primary fruit has darkened and dropped away. 92 pts
1994 – cork
Iodine on the finish, the palate shows a lovely aged elegance, but much of the freshness and vibrancy has gone. Wonderful to see this wine, knowing the timeline of the estate (best 1988, but it was hard to look at next to the unbridled youth and exuberance of the younger wines, coupled with a more elegant style of wine.) 90 pts
2015 Olmo’s Reward – $85RRP
Cabernet Franc (72%), Cabernet Sauvignon (19%), Malbec (9%)
Leafy, floral aromatics – murraya, jasmine, citrus roe, cassis, raspberry, strawberry. Textural, structured, eegant and refined. Tannins are fine and chalky – grippy even, in a chewy way. Very black fruit. “Vines really settle down after 25yrs, so the higher percentage of C.F. can be attributed to greater vine age and the fruit really coming in to its own.”
2008 Olmo’s Reward
Cabernet Franc (62%), Merlot (17%), Malbec (16%), Cabernet Sauvignon (5%)
The fruit here is taking on that Chinese hoi sin character, hints of juniper, blood plum, showing garnet colour on the rim.