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A small-batch showcase of Rising stars


Philip White has found a splinter group Rising from the Yarra Valley’s Sticks winery.

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Rising Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2017
($30; 13% alcohol; screw cap; 500 cases made)

Rising Wines is a new Yarra Valley outfit Sticks winemaker Tom Belford seems to have split off as a sort of premium small-batch showcase of wilder beauties. How new? The website’s not up yet, or I’d tell you more. So much for planning ahead for marketing in the day of direct internet sales …

How wild? The first Rising quartet makes up for the lack of digital advice, starting with a beautiful creamy Chardonnay.

I’ve just escaped the supermarket, which is a scarce enough misadventure for a hermit, and attempted salving some of this freak heat with a couple Asahi 3.5s, whose hoppy tannin burrs the tongue and sets it looking for fats so maybe I’m over-reacting to this calming Chardonnay unction action.

Umami. Mother’s milk. Fatty: the first acids to hit the newborn tongue. Those fatty acids you find around isovaleric aromas, which are often presignallers for calming human pheromones which then don’t come. But they often leave a frisson.

You get them sometimes in secondary, or malo-lactic ferment, when bacteria, not yeast, convert the metallic natural grape acid, malic, to lactic, the softer acid of milk.

All that – with oak-smoked bacon or cashews or something in the pan – wraps the aroma around me, by which time the acid of the end of the lovely thing starts to build. Which it does smooth and slow, drawing real fine chalky tannin with it.

This is one fine reassuring wine.

Rising Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2017
($30; 12.5% alcohol; scew cap; 500 cases made)

This baby’s real dark and dry after a good airing: I prefer it with these ravens in its dark piny boughs.

That’ll be some of the colour of its smell. It gets a wee bit sooty, which is also cool. Because below those prickly crarky topnotes come dark juniper and blackcurrant, even that whiff of tiny grape currants. Real deep framboise and crème de cassis pressings. Yum.

The palate’s sinuous and juicy. The velvety tannins here are more active than the acids, until way back in the very end when they rise like a rapier.

This is no royalty among Burgundies: it’s more of country type with birds in its hair, but at least it’s had a look around the court to see what all the princes are wearing.

Rising Yarra Valley Gamay 2017
($30; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 250 cases made)

Here’s a rare Australian go at the juicy indigo Gamay of Beaujolais. The Mornington Peninsula’s Eldridge has had some success with the same tricky, but rewarding, if frivolous beast.

Ripe heady raspberry and dark strawberry well away, cheeky and unabashed. It’s a swoony, swirling experience seasoned with dark gunbarrel anthocyanins from the skins: it’s like juniper with its scented hint at tannins to follow.

This is dead honest wine of no obvious sophistry: a comforting drink with no pretention but a really lush and luxurious bed of squishy flavour.

Eventually those neat little tannins creep in, tidying up your baby dribbles with its corrective pucker.

I want an aged crumbly Blue Wensleydale – with all its natural acid – on an oatcake, please.

Rising Yarra Valley Shiraz 2017
($30; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 250 cases made)

Here’s a rare thing loose in South Australia: a soupy rich Shiraz syrup without gloop. Goodness me.

Somehow, it’s not all berries, but somewhere near a bortsch made with ripe sweet beets with a swirl of good fresh yoghurt or sour cream.

The best one I had was on a Russian ferry that got loose in these austral waters: somebody in Vladivostok had welded her bow doors shut and filled the cargo hold with stifling cabins. The officers’ beets had been downstairs even further in some great fridge, ripening slowly since the revolution. Because we had no blazers, we could not sit at the Captain’s table, but we were afforded his top vittles. I wish I had a bottle of this to send across in return.

Got off the track … coming back to it, I reckon I can smell pomegranate … that soft long velvety tannin … yep, bortsch, a smoked trout on the side with a worried cornucopia of sprouts and capers; sourdough rye …

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