Exciting wines from Bert Salomon

Bert Salomon (pictured) is an Austrian who loves to play up the fact that he makes wine in two countries half a world apart, which just happen to have almost identical names. His company is called Austr(al)ian Estate Wines Pty Ltd. Salomon has shifted his winemaking to Chapel Hill, following the closure of the contract winemaking business where his Aussie wines used to be made. However, the winemaking continues to be overseen by himself and long-time consultant Mike Farmilo. 

The Salomon Estate vineyard (tastings) is at Finniss River, on the Fleurieu Peninsula, not far from McLaren Vale. Bert (full name Bertold) comes out every year at harvest time to manage the vintage with his wife, Gertrud. It’s becoming a family affair as his 25 year-old son, also Bert, worked the vintage at Wirra Wirra in 2014. Salomon Undhof (tastings) is one of Austria’s greatest wineries, making superlative riesling and gruner veltliner at Krems on the River Danube, just an hour’s drive outside Vienna. 

Two snippets of news from Bertold. First is that he has produced an Austrian riesling fermented in three Georgian amphoras, de-stemmed and whole-berry fermented (that is, with their skins and seeds). It’s the 2012 Alma Riesling, subtitled “Drei Amphoren”. I found it a clean, well-made riesling without any feral notes, with lovely varietal perfumes and no excess tannin grip. Indeed, the fine, soft texture is a highlight. 

Second: Salomon Estate Finniss River has released a flagship red after six years of maturation. It’s the 2009 Salomon Altus, a $110 retail-priced pure shiraz. It was made from the estate’s best shiraz vines, matured in 100% new French oak, and the result after six years is a powerful, big-structured but elegant (and not oaky) wine. An excellent shiraz. 

Altus is only made in the best years: its only predecessors are 2001 and 2003. It represents another achievement for this pioneering vineyard.

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