YOUR FREE WEEKLY WINE COLUMN for w/b July 21 2008
wine with david ellis
WINEMAKER Brian Light at McLaren Vale's Dowie Doole believes the most under-utilised and under-estimated variety at the ultra-premium end of the Australian wine industry is Chenin Blanc.
He points out that In France's Loire Valley, the variety has traditionally been used to produce incredibly long-living sweet white wines and excellent dry whites, because the French limit yields to just six or seven tonnes per hectare.
"But with enough water Chenin Blanc can yield up to four times this to the hectare – a temptation for growers here to look for tonnes of fruit rather than tonnes of fruit flavour," he says. "By simply using Chenin's naturally high acidity as a low-cost way of balancing residual sweetness for easy-drinking, middle-of-the-road and slightly sweet whites, they're doing nothing to enhance the variety's reputation."
Determined to do something about it, Brian's created a 2006 Dowie Doole Tintookie Chenin Blanc from 70-year old, low-yielding vines on Drew Dowie's and Lulu Lunn's Tintookie Vineyard. "These vines struggle a bit in the sandy, quite infertile soils, but deliver plenty of the variety's green pear and white peach flavours, and we pick early to retain freshness and tingling acidity."
A lovely wine at $32 with loads of cellaring potential (six or eight years at least, Brian says.) With those green pear and white peach flavours, a hint of nuttiness and already a nice creaminess coming through, serve it with poached salmon topped with buerre blanc – Chenin Blanc and buerre blanc are, after all, partner specialties of the Loire Valley.
BUY OF THE WEEK: LOGAN Wines in NSW's cold-climate central west have released their 2006 premium Logan Vintage 'M' Cuvee, a full-on-flavour sparkling from Peter Logan who used late-picked Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier to create an exceptional light-salmon coloured fizz that's spot-on as a special-occasion aperitif. Pay $35, pop the cork and start partying.
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. FRENCH connection: showcasing just how good Chenin Blanc can be.
. POP the cork and start partying with this exceptional fizz.