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Hills faves for the Savvy drinker


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For more summer respite, Whitey overlooks his dislike of most popular Sauvignons blanc to recommend one old pioneering Hills favourite and a new ‘un that follows an even older recipe.

Paracombe Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2013
$21; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 93 points

Paracombe’s pioneering Sauvignon blanc was impressive from its launch, 21 years ago.  Rather than being simply grassy, like the raw battery-acid/catpiss/lawn clippings nature of many rival Kiwis, and later, Adelaide Hills examples, it always seemed more genteel and comforting, without being the slightest bit fat. I was impressed in those early days by the wine’s capacity to smell delicately rosy, a little after the style of the beautiful Rieslings of Brian Barry at Jud’s Hill.

This release has a little of that yellow rose sweetness in its fragrance, with delicious buttery Anjou pear and some lime peel: as much pith as zest. For the mineral maniacs, I’d suggest its aromatic reflection of its ground is pretty much along the lines of damp ferruginous dirt, freshly turned by the plough. So it has earthy soul among all those delicate reassurances. Each of these perfumes are reflected with gentle elegance in the mouth division, the wine having an almost dainty unction, balanced by that stimulating granular texture you’ll find in the Belgian Bosc pear.

It makes me hunger for Chef So’s scallops on the half-shell, grilled with a touch of soy and mandarin peel, and garnished before serving with spring onion shreds. If you were to ask Eddie in advance for this dish at Park Lok, I’m sure the kitchen would oblige. As for all those pear references? Funny that the Paracombe plateau also grows utterly delicious pears …

Coates Adelaide Hills The Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2013
$25; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 94++ points

Duane Coates made this after the style of the dry white blends of Bordeaux, going to the extreme of basket pressing – like you’d do with a red – and depending upon wild yeasts during a ferment in expensive French barrels, then nine months on lees in the same oak.  This technique returned a meagre 300 litres of wine per tonne of fruit picked, a ratio acceptable only to a fanatic who prefers the company of gourmands to that of his accountant.

It smells like damp chalk and loquat, with slightly prickly/tickly references to those fine Chene Caucase barrels. And I swear it has a whiff of white chocolate about it, like the Belgian Guylian sea-shell-shaped dainties, which somehow brings me back to that White Cliffs of Dover seaside chalk.

The flavour is along the lines of the buttery Anjou pear, with very fine drying tannins and soft acidity. The wine is much more genteel and elegant than, say, a Chardonnay made in the same manner: it’s sufficiently stimulating to set those dribble glands gushing like faucets, but affords enough viscosity to comfort the palate at the same time.  This see-sawing of sensations drives me straight at octopus, grilled or pickled with fresh herbs. The great Enzo Clappis’s pickled fish also comes to mind. Jeez I have lovely memories of The Maylands when Enzo’s hand was on its tiller, and those savoury fishies were on my plate!

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