WINES WITH ALTITUDE
The Southern Highlands - what wonders are there here…
A beautiful ‘land of sweeping plains, of ragged mountain ranges’ in a cool climate region of New South Wales with a quintessentially English feel – gum trees and little corellas combine with perfectly manicured hedges and unpredictable weather!
The wines reflect this unique landscape in their distinctive, elegantly refined cool climate style. The myriad of exotic but subtle aromas and sublime complexity of finish completely dispels old preconceptions of Australian wine.
These wines are on a higher level – wines with altitude: no more ‘smack in the face’ aromas and kick-ass alcoholic length, instead there is finesse and gravitas. These are grown-up, serious wines designed to meld with Asian-inspired flavours.
Stunning mainly single varietals from Riesling, Pinot Gris and Arneis through to Pinot Noir, Tempranillo and Barbera the cool climate produces wines of intrinsic freshness, moderate alcohol and juicy sweetness of flavour with a dry finish – mouth-watering and succulent.
Each small parcel of land has subtle variations – terroir-driven differences - which are recogniseable in the wines of the individual vineyards and after a few tastings, one would be able to detect which wine came from which SH vineyard.
The Southern Highlands' first 5-star Vineyard, Centennial, at 650-700 metres above sea level where their Reserve range of wines have scored 90/100 points and above with James Halliday, the Australian Hugh Johnson.
HCentennial’s wines are completely boutique and exude elegance and diversity, being equally as terroir-true to their "small" parcel of the Southern Highlands land as other vineyards in the region!
The Cellar Door was old-world style reminiscent of the architecture of Bordeaux and had a traditional ambiance. Our tasting began with a delicious Blancs de Blancs NV to rival any NV Champagne poured by a very informed lady, Melinda, followed by a lively and interesting discussion with one of the owners, John Piven Large; and ended with a tasting of an amazing Reserve Barbera 2014.
Centennial B de B NV (T.M.): Aromas of lemony citrus and a hint of buttery brioche with creamy voluptuousness and vibrancy in the mouth followed by a delicious honeyed finish – beautiful!
Centennial Reserve Riesling 2016: Ripe lime, lemon zest, exotic stone fruit and a waft of jasmine on the nose; clean, crisp and mouth-watering palate – energetic young Riesling.
Centennial Reserve Arneis 2014: Pale gold, green-hued in appearance revealing floral and ripe pear notes on the nose; in the mouth a fluid apple-fresh acidity and a rich honeycomb textured length – luscious!
Centennial Reserve Pinot Noir 2014: Deep cerise, bright plump red cherry fruits, a violet and truffled allure to the aromas; in the mouth delicate acidity, red and blue berried fruit flavours combining with fine and subtle tannins and a savoury complexity – delicious!
Centennial Reserve Shiraz Viognier 2014: Rich deep red, an intense nose of dark berry compote, dark spicy chocolate and porcini which carries through to the lush plummy, even-textured palate and silky moreish finish – charming elegance.
Centennial Reserve Barbera 2014: Deep garnet with purple hue, abundant raspberry and cherry aromas with spicy overtones; vibrant fruit flavour with meaty undertones, medium bodied and harmonious…
On that sweet note, our sublime tasting at Centennial - the flagship vineyard within the elevated cool climate region of the Southern Highlands - ended.
A wine and food extravaganza in the Southern Highlands Winery - a light and airy barn-style structure with large terrace windows overlooking rolling countryside beyond with an architectural tree-lined skyline.
We met Eddy Rossi, the amiable SHW’s winemaker, who guided us through the distinctive wines in the premium Oldbury Reserve range.
Oldbury Reserve Pinot Gris 2016: 8 day skin contact gives a gloriously pale orange tinged pink appearance, a bouquet of bright red fruits, wild strawberries, Nelis (Oz variety) pears; and juicy acidity, delicate orange peel and cinnamon spice in the mouth – a great match with Fiori di Zucca
Oldbury Reserve Riesling 2016: Lemony brightness, stone fruits and lime on the nose with a delightful mineral-edged palate followed by lime and green apple length – excellent with Vitello Tonnato
Oldbury Reserve Chardonnay 2016: Golden with zesty lemon and fragrant peach aromas surrounded by a smokey minerality - combined richness, fine acidity and intensity - beautiful with buttery sage Gnocchi
Oldbury Reserve Pinot Noir 2014: Red cherries, floral and spice aromas, savoury edge together with deep red fruit in the mouth - delicate and balanced – perfect with Bistecca
A delightful and memorable tasting and culinary experience at SHW; and another excellent range of wines for our London market.
After a lengthy trip from the Southern Highlands, travelling through the wild winding roads of the spectacular Great Dividing Range, we arrived in Orange and were treated to a delightful surprise performance of ‘Wind in the Willows’ by Good Companye.
We also sampled a couple of stunning wines - one from Bendigo & Harcourt, Central Victoria and the other, a Tasmanian beauty:
Lome Bendigo 2015 Marsanne Viognier Rousanne: apricot aromas, honeysuckle and almonds, rush of ripe stone fruit character, vibrancy and finesse, great texture, balanced acidity, spicy finish – superb!
Stefano Lubiano Pinot Gris 2014: irresistible amber tint (pre fermentation maceration), rich spicy nose with orange blossom notes, subtle spice, delicious layered palate
The next day the sun shimmered bright and warm as we headed out to take in one of Australia’s highest vineyards at 700 m, Borrodell, on the slopes of Mount Canobolas, an extinct volcano.
Looking out from the terrace of the charming log cabin cellar door over pinot noir vines and a cherry tree and heritage apple tree-filled landscape - very reminiscent of southern France - two silouettes appeared on the skyline on a green stretch reserved for visiting helicopters - a unique sighting of a couple of grey kangaroos - who bounced into the foliage below and disappeared. We could only be in one place!
We chatted with award winning vigneron owner and farmer, Borry Gartrell, who was trusting that the freak torrential rain of a couple of days before had not affected the cherry harvest. Borry also spoke of his gem of a Trufferie where he has the key components of good climatic and soil conditions within this gorgeous piece of Orange topography; together with Borry’s attention to detail and a clear wealth of patience, this is another successful foray.
So a short transfer to the raison d’etre: the underground cellar, where the lady of Borrodell, Gaye, poured us the range of wines – the two of most interest:
Borrodell Gewurztramminer 2014: Gold with wonderful aromatics, sweet, perfumed lychee and conference pear nose, delicacy and richness, off dry with a hint of honey and spice on the palate
Borrodell Pinot Meunier 2014: Amber glow with autumnal aromas, cherries, dark chocolate; herbal, alluring deep red fruit flavours, delicate and rounded acidity and tannins, some complexity – a favourite and surely one for our ‘reds’ list!
Borrodell Chardonnay 2013: Lovely apple, lemon and lime notes as well as a hint of orange peel, a little peachy richness hiding under the fresh, zippy citrus, with a little toast and nut character from the oak - finesse and precision.
Borrodell Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Wonderful aromatic nose of passionfruit, fresh herbs, flint; in the mouth flinty minerality, tingling off-dry acidity enhanced by the passionfruit character again!
Borrodell Rose Moscato A perfumed aromatic strawberry bouquet with a fresh pink fruit flavour and a creamy mousse – the perfect aperitivo!
Borrodell Pinot Noir 2012 A bright, lively nose of raspberry and ripe red cherry fruits combined with clove spice – or possibly truffle; in the mouth spicy red fruit and silky gentle tannins – delightful!
A glorious experience of landscape, wine and weather in unique, uncharacteristic Australian surroundings – the ‘roos being the exception!