by Alf Bock
The temperature is rising, the cricket is on TV; it must be summer. Days of promise lie ahead with picnics and parties on the patio and out on the lawn, by the water, relaxing with friends and family, and what better companion to all of that activity than some chilled, summery drinks from the Swan Valley? And to help you out, and with a bit of a cricketing theme, I have put together a Swan Valley First XI.
Now, my selection policy.
There can be only one representative from each winery and, despite the fabulous reds turned out in the Valley, this team is all laid back, chilled, light and ready to roll at your next picnic or party. Not to say there are no reds, but the ones in this team fit in so well with the summery theme. So here we go.
To open it seems obvious a sparkling or two is called for – and so many excellent representatives could get the nod, but I have gone for one from the Valley’s premier sparkling producer, Sittella. They knock out so many from super premium to more laid back, friendly, approachable wines – and one of my favourites comes in here – the Sittella NV Sparkling Chenin Blanc, just a cracker for everyday drinking – crisp, lots of green apples and lemon flavours and aromas.
For the other opener, I have opted for something of a contrast – still with a sparkle, but one made in the Pet Nat style, and, again, many in the Valley to choose from; I have gone for one from Tom Daniel’s Chouette – and the name sort of chooses itself I reckon – Chouette 2021 Pique-Nique Pet-Nat, a field blend of four white grapes, fresh, zippy, tropical, pineapple and lemon.
As any cricket lover would know, number three requires something classical, so my thoughts turned to Chardonnay and couldn’t go past this top of the shelf example from one of the Valley’s oldest wineries, Sandalford. No, the grapes aren’t from the Valley (rather from their vineyard in Margaret River) but the making is, and what a wine. The Sandalford 2018 Prendiville Reserve Chardonnay is all a premium chardy should be – peaches, nectarines, cashews burst out of the glass, with a creamy, lemon palate – one to savour over a meal with friends.
Next in the order another acknowledgement of the importance of Chenin Blanc in the Swan Valley – and a proven medal winner to boot. Windy Creek 2021 Chenin Blanc is one of the best value wines around – at the price you should grab a case – it’s all green apples on the bouquet, crisp, clean and refreshing.
I couldn’t put together any list of summer wines without a Riesling and so to the entry from Nikola Estate who are turning out some fabulous wines under new winemaker, Damian Hutton. Again, the grapes don’t originate in the Valley, rather the Great Southern which is the region producing the best Rieslings in Australia, but it is made up here. Nikola Estate 2021 Frankland River Riesling nails it. Lemon blossom on the bouquet, limes, lemons, beautiful minerality on the palate.
At six and seven I have gone for a couple of all-rounders to please both red and white drinkers – two rosé of contrasting style – firstly a consistent performer and medal winner over the years from Pinelli Estate – 2021 Pinelli Breanna Rosé – plenty of cherries and strawberries aromas and flavours, a touch of mid-palate sweetness, but finishing crisp and dry.
And then one from a newcomer in Okhela Wines – the 2020 Okhela Sophia’s Rosé, made from Chenin Blanc with Shiraz skins thrown in to give it a blush, cherry and red apple aromas, cranberries and apples flavouring the quite tart palate.
At eight? Well, an absolute stunner – a Gold Medal at the Swan Valley Show and at the Chenin Blanc Challenge – and is a perfect demonstration of how well Chenin Blanc ages if you have the resolve to keep some aside. John Kosovich 2015 Bottle Aged Chenin Blanc – apples, and honeyed notes, gaining a little colour – a gorgeous wine.
Nine – something a little from left field – from the pioneers of natural wine in the Valley, Paul and Bree Hoffman, we have a Semillon harvested over three years, aged under ullage, picking up some characteristic flor fino notes, then aromas of preserved lemon, burnt honey, Gunpowder green tea, and with a lingering saline finish. A food wine indeed is Swan Valley Wines Tank Half Full.
I reckon a red wouldn’t be a bad idea, but something that is light and frisky – what better than a Grenache built for a chill? Vino Volta 2020 Post Modern Seriousism Grenache – strawberries, sour cherries, juicy and utterly satisfying.
And finally, what would it be at this time of the year without an Australian classic, Sparkling Shiraz? In the 2018 Lamont’s Sparkling Shiraz we have one of the best expressions of the type – cherry and spice, dark chocolate, cola – everything you look for in this iconic style.
Well there we are – a well-rounded team to see you through the summery days ahead. Of course, there are so many more – why not get out and visit a few wineries and try for yourself?
- Sittella NV Sparkling Chenin Blanc
- Chouette 2021 Pique-Nique Pet Nat
- Sandalford Prendiville Reserve 2018 Chardonnay
- Windy Creek 2021 Chenin Blanc
- Nikola Estate 2021 Frankland Riesling
- Pinelli 2021 Breanna Rosé
- Okhela 2020 Rosé
- John Kosovich 2015 Bottle Aged Chenin
- Swan Valley Wines Tank Half Full
- Vino Volta 2020 Post Modern Seriousism Grenache
- Lamonts 2018 Sparkling Shiraz