2020 Frankland Estate Riesling Release
These wines have a cult following across Australia both for their beauty on-release, and their eminent age-worthiness. As a judge of the Gourmet Traveller Wine List Awards, I see the Frankland Estate rieslings on only the best and most discerningly elite wine lists in the country. Siblings Hunter and Elizabeth carry on what their parents Barrie Smith and Judy Cullam began in 1988. The certified organic winery boasts a huge bank of solar panels on the roof, completing their circle of sustainability, and in the winery the investment in oak barrels of large format and general ‘vibe of the thing’ makes for impressive viewing. The wines have cemented themselves as Frankland Grand Cru.
2019 Smith Cullam
The nose is exceptionally floral and fine. Shaved soap, limestone, a gust of sea breeze and more than a dollop of lime and crushed almond. The palate has salivating acidity and a rolling, tumbling texture which almost disguises the laser-like drive across the palate. It is not restrained but expansive, generous and very long, gliding through to the finish like a greyhound let out for the first run of the day. The heightened minerality and fine chalky phenolics on the palate of this wine are truly something to behold. They form part of the framework and structure that supports the fruit, the fruit a force of its own. Simply put, this is a wine of fierce grace and saline mellifluousness.
RRP $65, 18.6/20
2019 Poison Hill
A slightly more expressive nose between it and the Isolation Ridge, reminiscent somehow of lemon sherbet and clean white beach sand. The palate is inordinately intense, searing focus and line encased in an almost savoury spice capsule: macadamia nut, paperbark, eucalypt, green apple skin and white pepper. There are hints of clove and anise in there too. A remarkable wine. The length of flavour lingers for a very, very long time and pair that with the acidity and incredible fruit concentration, this has a very long life ahead of it yet. This is shaped like a knife blade – razor sharp, long, fine and steely. Yes.
RRP $45, 18.8/20
2019 Isolation Ridge
The nose here is very floral: lavender, orange blossom and something sweet and warm, honeysuckle, perhaps. The palate – while very generous and almost full – verges on austere, with a ferocity of acidity, phenolic structure and white spice. This vintage of Isolation Ridge has every hallmark possible to indicate a virtual lifetime ahead of it in the cellar. The almost unbelievable fruit power and drive, and interminable length of flavour speak volumes.
RRP $45, 18.7/20
2010 Isolation Ridge
Frankland Estate release museum stock and make it available to purchase. A smart move when you consider this 2010 vintage of Isolation Ridge. There is no better assessment than that of comparison, and to have the 2019 and the 2010 side by side paints a fascinating picture about the potential evolutionary road of the youngster. The 2010 has lost not a jot of its acidity which remains in place, now at the centre of a very different landscape of fruit flavour. The nose has a green peppercorn, bitumen, roasted salted macadamia vibe to it, the palate reinforcing those characters. Here, the flavours swirl and linger and morph and quite frankly, this is exactly why you should be drinking Riesling a little bit older, if you can. The lemon citrus has evolved from pith to preserved, and the pretty florals have aged and dried with paper-thin delicacy. It has grace and curves and it is languid, but it retains structure, finesse and focus.
RRP $65, 18.6/20
2019 Alter Weg
“Riesling with texture; barrel fermented and matured for 11 months, des alte weg [the old way]. Influenced by our great winemaking friends in Germany. Organic viticulture and winemaking.” 13% alc.
There is something very different and independent about this wine – it shares a DNA with the others, but there is juniper and white currant, brioche and spice. The wine is more rounded and softer, likely owing to its time in oak. The acidity has a tingly lightness about it. There is crushed nut, a suggestion of clove and caperberry, and a final stamp of ‘yessss’ in the lingering finish.
RRP $35, 18.7/20