Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wines of the week - March 8th

The wine world might look look like a big place, but it can be surprisingly small. It doesn't take six degrees of separation to get from a Walla Walla Viognier to an Adelaide red with a twist.

Seven Hills Columbia Valley Viognier 2010
Fourth generation farmer Casey McLellan runs one of the oldest wineries in Washington's Walla Walla region, consistently turning out high quality reds from a number of different sites throughout the region, with a focus on Bordeaux varietals. However, when it comes to whites it's not Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, but Alsace varietals Pinot Gris and Riesling, as well as Viognier from the Rhone that can be found in the downtown Walla Walla tasting room. The 2010 Viognier, made from Columbia Valley fruit, shows nice restraint, avoiding heat and overt floral characters, with spicy notes mingling with pear and peach, before a lovely smooth finish. 

Salomon-Undhof Grüner Veltliner Hochterrassen 2010

There's a link to a different Seven Hills with this wine - based in Austria's Niederosterreich region, Salomon-Undhof's owners are Bert and Gertrud Salomon. Lovers of Australian reds, they founded Salomon Estate in South Australia in 1995, before combining it with running Salomon-Undhof in 2002. Long before they were racking up frequent flyer miles, Bert's great-great uncle Johann Nepomuk Hinteröcker headed to South Australia in 1866, and spent three years at the Seven Hills mission and winery in the Clare Valley. Back to the the name suggests, this Grüner is grown on high terraces in Stein and Krems. Inviting citrus and pear aromas give way to a more spicy palate, with a refreshing acidity making it an ideal wine for spring picnics. Excellent value at $15.

S.C. Pannell Pronto Tinto 2008

Blends such as these may become an important feature of the Australian wine world as producers seek to overcome a feeling of ho-hum amongst consumers worn down by a procession of well made but too familiar Shiraz and Cabernets. This wine is a blend of Grenache, Touriga Nacional, Syrah and Mourvèdre. There's nothing new in the GSM part, but the introduction of Portuguese hero Touriga Nacional gives it a significant kick along, holding back the ripe red and black fruit characters to allow some dried flower and herb characters to add complexity and interest. Try this, and probably his other reds as well. Stephen Pannell clearly learnt a few tricks in his time in Burgundy, Bordeaux and Barolo.

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