Vintage 2019 had a few curveballs up its sleeve but ultimately yielded wines of poise, power and acid drive: 2019 is one for the collectors – their long future is bright indeed.
Each year, the seasonal conditions determine the level of our own personal riesling indulgence. That is how many wines we are able to make, or more accurately how many our certified organic vineyards allow.
In 2019, five individual rieslings wines were made. The wet winter was followed by an early spring which dried out quickly as summer approached, but not before a good canopy and fruit set was achieved. Dry conditions continued through summer, into autumn and nearly to harvest, with the resulting fruit intensity looking more than impressive. With dry weather comes cold nights (no clouds) as a result of the continental effect in Frankland River. In 2019 this caused the natural acidity to remain outrageously high for a long time, and it was clear that we had to wait this situation out until some of the friendly, resolved and more rounded acidity that we look for came into the fold. A rain event in early March caused some considerable tension as we knew we had to sit tight and hold off picking what was at that stage, just underripe riesling. It was right on the cusp. Whilst many picked, we held out, nervous as the rain event swelled the berries a little and then thankfully, they started to subside. As the concentration returned it was decided it was time to pick. As a result, sugar ripeness is a little higher than in other years, but a necessary trade-off. Overall the 2019 vintage is considered a very successful riesling season.
Each block of fruit that goes into the single vineyard wines was picked on its own merit. The harvest extended from the 11th to the 24th March, meaning we had several passes through the vineyards ensuring optimal picking times for each parcel. While there are a lot of differences in the vineyard sites and styles of the five rieslings, we hope that balance, energy and a trueness to site are the constants.
Alter Weg Riesling 2019
This is a wine that we are happy to pick a little riper, allowing it to go into a fuller fruit spectrum. From making this wine we have learnt that, under our organic regime, natural acidity does not drop away (like it was prone to years ago). Instead, the rieslings go on developing flavour and friendliness. This more open, forward style of wine spends nine months in neutral oak; a combination of 500L to 1,200lt. This time on lees helps relax the wine and pull some of its terroir and secondary flavours.
“…there is juniper and white currant, brioche and spice. The wine is more rounded and softer, likely owing to its time in oak. The acidity has a tingly lightness…” Read more at erinlarkin.com.au
Poison Hill Vineyard Riesling 2019
A challenging year in this vineyard with the dry conditions affecting berry size. The wine however impresses with its resulting power. A conscious decision over recent years to embrace the riper spectrum of Poison Hill seems to be giving the wine greater individual personality and charm, power yet retaining elegance. Its white floral aromatics and pithy texture will reward cellaring.
“…A slightly more expressive nose between it and the Isolation Ridge, reminiscent somehow of lemon sherbet and clean white beach sand. The palate is inordinately intense, searing focus and line encased in an almost savoury spice capsule…” Read more at erinlarkin.com.au
Isolation Ridge Vineyard Riesling 2019
As is always the case, the Isolation Ridge Vineyard Riesling carries more purity and elegance than that of Poison Hill on release. The location in the south of the Frankland River region leads to conditions at our home vineyard and winery where more rain falls and the clouds linger, keeping things just that little bit cooler.
Ten months on lees in tank with a small portion (5%) barrel fermented and matured, the joined back to the final wine. The time on lees in tank and barrel are a critical component in helping these wines relax and find themselves, increasing both texture and personality of site. The additional time on lees has been a large part of the evolution of Frankland Estate rieslings. Bottled in December and rested in the cellars ready for release in May 2020.
“…This vintage of Isolation Ridge has every hallmark possible to indicate a virtual lifetime ahead of it in the cellar. The almost unbelievable fruit power and drive, and interminable length of flavour speak volumes…” Read more at erinlarkin.com.au
Isolation Ridge Vineyard Riesling 2010
Frankland Estate have retained a small quantity of Isolation Ridge Vineyard Riesling for release at 10 years of age. Each year with the release of the Single Vineyard Rieslings, a 10-year-old Isolation Ridge Vineyard Riesling wine will be released direct from the winery and to restaurants through our distribution partners.
We hope you enjoy seeing these wines (2019 & 2010) side by side. Much has changed in our minds when we compare these vintages, yet they are recognisably the same DNA. In 2010 lees contact lasted only 3 months, as a slightly fresher/tighter style was achieved. It was the first of our certified organic wines to hit the market, the start of a new era. RRP $65 (wine club and website sales, while stock lasts).
“…The 2010 has lost not a jot of its acidity which remains in place, now at the centre of a very different landscape of fruit flavour. The nose has a green peppercorn, bitumen, roasted salted macadamia vibe to it…” Read more at erinlarkin.com.au
SmithCullam Riesling 2019
With so much natural acidity hanging around in 2019, it was obvious from the onset that the possibility of making a SmithCullam Riesling was very much on the cards. Delicate and floral, the residual sugar (16grams) dissolves into the wine, appearing hardly “off dry” (which is, by the way, the intent). Floral and juicy is what we look for in the mineral drenched delicate framework. SmithCullam is a block selection from within the Isolation Ridge Vineyard.
“…The nose is exceptionally floral and fine. Shaved soap, limestone, a gust of sea breeze and more than a dollop of lime and crushed almond. The palate has salivating acidity and a rolling, tumbling texture which almost disguises the laser-like drive across the palate. It is not restrained but expansive…” Read more at erinlarkin.com.au
Isolation Ridge Vineyard surrounds the Frankland Estate Winery, 13km south of the Frankland River town site on ironstone gravel soils over a clay subsoil.
Poison Hill Vineyard is a granitic based soil type with predominantly underlying white clay soils. This vineyard is situated 3km north of the Frankland River town site and enjoys slightly dryer and warmer conditions through the season.
15km separates these two vineyards.
SUMMARY / WRAP
The rieslings of the Great Southern are well known for their ability to age. They unfurl very slowly over many years, reluctantly yielding their tight-fisted grip on acidity, tension and coil, eventually moving into a very graceful space, speaking of a subtle toastiness, spice and structure. The 2019 vintage release from Frankland Estate is the epitomy of the start of this evolutionary arc, and should you be wise enough to start cellaring these now (or perhaps you’re ahead of that game and have a collection already) you will be rewarded for many years to come. As I discuss in my tasting notes, the Poison Hill and the SmithCullam contain every bit of structure, acidity, spice and charm that I think Riesling needs for a stint in the cellar, and for my money, these are the two wines that absolutely do it for me. Having said that, the texture and personality of the Alter Weg makes that the wine that I am choosing to drink now. The Isolation Ridge are wines of structure and poise, and that 2010 proves the power of a bit of extra age. I’d love to see what these wines look like in ten years from now, the impact of (at that future time) two decades of organic management under the belt will have no doubt contributed a substantial whack of personality, site distinction and purity that may have been otherwise unobtainable. When the vines get the chance to speak for themselves, without the interference of sprays and external synthetic stimulants, the results are phenomenal, as these wines are. ‘-Erin Larkin’