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From romance to a wild yeast rodeo


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Barossa Valley winemaker Charles Melton’s romance-inspired Rose of Virginia is a blended red for the thinking pinkster, while Kevin Judd’s Wild Sauvignon would go down a treat with saltimbocca.

Charles Melton Barossa Valley Rose of Virginia 2013
$24; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 94+ points

Much more than a rude sweet blush, here’s romantic Charlie’s best-yet vinous ode to his “flaxen-haired beauty”, his lifelong partner Virginia Weckert.  A very clever blend of Grenache (50%) Cabernet sauvignon (22%) Pinot noir (10%) Shiraz (9%) and Pinot meunier (9%), it has that wicked blue gunbarrel glint which I first thought may indicate Cinsault.  But a drink of it tells immediately that it’s a much more complex beast than that.  It’s a blender’s masterpiece.  In a very clever way it replaces sugar with a perfectly viscous texture, and balances that with long steely acidity and crushed-bone china tannins.  I broke eggs in the remnants of last night’s Bolognese sauce and served them runny with a slice of olive bread toast rubbed with raw garlic and this lovely thing at brunch and the only thing on earth that would have made it better was a caper or two.  Charlie’s hit the big gong with this one.  Ideal autumn/spring drinking for the thinking pinkster.

Greywacke Kevin Judd Marlborough Wild Sauvignon 2011
$35; 14% alcohol; screw cap; 94++ points

After working a few years at Chateau Reynella, Kevin Judd went off to Marlborough to help David Hohnen invent Cloudy Bay, where he worked for decades before starting his own brand, named after the greywacke stone which makes up most of New Zealand’s South Island.  He knows his way around Sauvignon blanc.  This is his annual wild yeast rodeo: some bits of it took six months to ferment.  It went straight from the press into old French oak barrels; about half of it underwent the secondary malo-lactic ferment, in which the harsh metallic malic acid of the grapes (think all the rest of Marlborough’s grassy acid Savvy-B) converts to the creamier, custardy lactic acid.  Now and again the barrels were stirred.  After a year in wood the wine went into steel, still on yeast lees, where it sat for another five months.  It has an alluring mixture of the bright tropical aromas of crisp juicy fruits – like star fruit – with the richer, creamy vanillinoids you find in jackfruit and durian.  It’s a really soothing dry white of a form somewhere between Marlborough and Mersault, and makes most of the rest look downright lazy.  It’d be perfect with a delicate saltimbocca.

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