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Alternative Whites And Blends

I’m a big fan of dry white blends, whether they be Alsace-style mixtures of varieties such as riesling, gewürztraminer, pinot gris, etc, or Rhone-style blends such as marsanne, roussanne, viognier and others.

This month I’ve loaded reviews of quite a number, of which there are some very interesting stand-out wines. In straight viognier, Clonakilla’s 2013 (tasting) is again a ripper, in good company with Quartz Hill (tasting) from Victoria’s Pyrenees region and Scion (tasting) from Rutherglen winemaker Roly Milhinch. There’s a superb gewürztraminer from a consistent producer, New England’s Toppers Mountain (tasting), a Barossa roussanne from Twelftree (tasting) and a fiano from Kirrihill at Clare (tasting).

But the potential for multi-varietal blends is even higher than single varietals. For starters, when more than one grape is blended the potential is there to boost the flavour complexity exponentially, as not only are they adding an different range of aromas and flavours, the chemical and flavour components of different varieties can (at least in theory) interact to create new ones. That said, some Australian attempts are surprisingly plain. This is possibly because they need time, and are released too early. It’s also possible that some people’s winemaking habits result in a ‘blandification’ of wine due to over-fining, over-filtration or other unsympathetic practices.

Examples of successful blends in my latest reviews are the stunning Ravensworth The Grainery (tasting) (a mélange of eight varieties led by marsanne, roussanne, chardonnay and viognier), and Turkey Flat’s exemplary Butcher’s Block (tasting) (marsanne, viognier, roussanne). Chateau Tanunda’s The Three Graces (tasting) (using the same varieties) is also getting there, while Chalmers Montevecchio Bianco (tasting) (a field blend of Italian varieties) is certainly on the right track – but the ’12 arguably still needs a bit more time.

And finally, for reference, there’s the 2012 Gentil (tasting) from leading Alsace producer Hugel et Fils, which is a traditional blend of several undisclosed Alsace white varieties. And it’s delish!

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