19 December 2013
WINES TO MAKE YOU SMILE
$38; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap; 95 points
Of the increasing number of finer style Chardonnays to cross my desk this year, this, the last one to hit, is probably the best. It has that rare combination of complexity and finesse which sets it apart from the current well-intentioned plunge to more racy, less obese Chardonnays. This knee-jerk fad has unfortunately seen too many over-simple, high-acid, shattered windscreens masquerading as Chardonnays, as if the misdirected makers had a Riesling fetish but couldn't grow that great variety. Here, the clever Judd has built a wine that smells like the Greywacke stone of its vineyard, stacked with ever-so-fine layers of jackfruit, fresh-sliced ginger root, hessian superphosphate sacks, and Bacchus only knows what. To drink, it's a fine, perfectly viscous lineal thing, with as much citrus as buttery Jackfruit vanillin. Its acid is never too powerful for this modest texture, but serves to tease the entire heady effect out. It is a beautiful elegant wine which is not trying to be Burgundy. Something makes me feel that it's past that. Scallops on the half-shell with strands of spring onion and tiny little slices of mandarin peel, fresh outa the grill, please.
Yangarra PF (Preservative-free) McLaren Vale Shiraz 2013
$25; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; 92 points
Declaration: I have no interest other than curiosity and fascination in the business, but I live in a small flat beside the Yangarra Winery. If I were a motoring writer, I would hope to live beside, or in the Ferrari factory. Get my drift. Peter Fraser and Charlie Seppelt designed this wine to be a safe, clean, easy-drinking whizzer, without preservatives (sulphur), finings (eggs or fish) or acid (tartaric or acsorbic). It is certified both organic and bio-dynamic, so there's an extremely long list of other things that aren't in it either. It smells dense and compressed, like a Spanish quince paste, but made instead from blackberries, redcurrants, fresh juniper and beetroot. It is a delightfully intense, but fresh aroma. The flavours are similarly intense, but like that Greywacke Chardonnay, remain freakishly elegant and racy without losing any complexity. The only bit that's not your actual fruitaveg is a whiff of dust, like the vineyard smells in the summer. It is not orange, bearded or brown wine. And, like coffee or tea, it has been filtered, or strained, which some fanatics insist precludes it from being called a "natural wine." So much for them. It is clean, fresh stable wine made for drinking in the year of its release, like most Beaujolais. I have kept a bottle open for several days, to surprisingly little detriment. It finishes dry and adult. It makes me smile.