Frankland Estate Masterclass: 2022
Barry Weinman: 6th June 2022
To put on a benchmark tasting where your wines are up against some of the country’s finest takes a brave, self-assured winery. The obvious risk is that the comparator’s wines will look better than your own.
The team at Frankland Estate have a quiet confidence in the quality of their wines and did not hesitate to show them alongside a strong line up of comparators. And their wines held their own and then some.
The Isolation Ridge Riesling is in a different style to what we typically see out of Clare or the Great Southern and all the better for it. The gentle residual sugar is a key component in what is a textural treat. The sheer drinkability was a key highlight of the wine.
The evolution in style of the Isolation Ridge Shiraz/Syrah over the last decade or so was brilliantly demonstrated by tasting the 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2020 side by side. The last two were a real step up in terms of fruit quality and winemaking.
The 2019 was an explosion of ripe, supple fruit, whilst the 2020 was more brooding and introverted. The splash of Viognier appeared to have more of an impact in the 2019.
Somehow, the 2020 Smith Cullam Syrah managed to combine the best of both of these into a magical wine experience. Definitely worth trying. #franklandestate #isolationridge #smithcullam
Bracket 1: Classics
Frankland Estate – Isolation Ridge Vineyard – Riesling – 2021. A drier year that produced pristine fruit. The nose has a wonderful combination of fresh, aromatic fruit and complex winemaking inputs. Ripe, with fine acidity and superbly judged residual sugar, the intensity is a revelation. The finish is textured and long, with great density. Apricot, almond, pear, nectarine and floral honeysuckle all make an appearance.
The style moved to a slightly riper expression where the fruit can shine. Components were left on lees for up to six months in tank, and barrel ferment was used for a small portion of the fruit.
Crawford River – Riesling – 2021. The aromatics here are a highlight. Apricot fruit and supple richness make for a compelling drink, even if it does not have the absolute power of the Isolation Ridge. An understated wine that really builds in the glass.
Grosset – Polish Hill – Riesling – 2021. Pristine and fine. Scintillating acidity and taut structure, yet fine and restrained at the same time. A superb wine in a very different style, that looked just a bit awkward in this line up as the style is so different.
Christmann Gimmeldingen – Riesling – (Village) – 2020. This was a bit overwhelmed in this line up.
Bracket 2: Off dry
Frankland Estate – Smith Cullam – Riesling – 2021. Very similar profile to the Isolation Ridge, but with the floral aromatics turned down a touch, and the textural components turned up. For me, this really needs a few years to really open up but is a super wine all the same.
Heymann-Löwenstein – Schieferterrassen Bohème – 2018. Wow. The aromatics here are amazing, and really quite foreign to anything made in Australia. Intense, powerful, savoury and complex. The palate is a little more mainstream, with lovely acidity playing against the residual sugar. Viscous and mouthcoating, the texture is a highlight. Quite superb.
Koehler-Ruprecht Kallstadter – Kabinett Trocken – 2020. The balance here is a highlight. The fruit here is much more preserved. But lacks the sheer depth and power of the previous wines.
Loosen Barry – Wolta Wolta – Riesling – 2019. Drier, very intense and very powerful. But the finish is quite closed at present. Would be wonderful with food, or with ten years in the cellar. Possibly the most expensive Riesling made in Australia.
Bracket 3: Isolation Ridge Vineyard Vertical
Frankland Estate – Isolation Ridge Vineyard – Shiraz 2015. Pristine fruit, with hints of spice, menthol and eucalypt. White pepper to the fore over cherry and satsuma plum fruit. Excellent balance and mouthfeel.
Frankland Estate – Isolation Ridge Vineyard – Syrah 2017. The spice is turned up, complemented by sweet fruit that floods the palate. Large format oak allows the fruit to shine. Pretty and vibrant, yet with greater mid-palate density and texture. Lovely mouthfeel and excellent length of flavours aided by a small proportion of whole bunch fermentation.
Frankland Estate – Isolation Ridge Vineyard – Syrah 2019. Wow. This is quite special. The sweet, ripe fruit is still the focus, but the savoury, spicy components really make an impact. There are lovely musk and pear notes that run the length of the palate. Aromatic, floral and quite spectacular. Small amount of Viognier and Mourvèdre add impact, as does a component of whole-bunch fermentation. 95+pts seems only fair.
Frankland Estate – Isolation Ridge Vineyard Syrah 2020. Quite a different expression of Frankland Shiraz. Here the aromatics are less overt, whilst the structure is the focus and the fruit taut, fine, unyielding. With air, the intense, dense and powerful fruit really shines. Despite the power, structure and almost chewy texture., this somehow remains near seamless. Only 6% whole bunch in this vintage. 95 – 96pts.
Bracket 4: Benchmark Shiraz
Frankland Estate – Smith Cullam – Syrah – 2020. This is a special wine, combining the aromatics of the 2019 Isolation ridge, with the depth of the 2020. Yet, at its core, this is elegant and very fine. It offers the opportunity to be appreciated young, but also possesses excellent ageability. The tannin management is a highlight. A magical wine. 96pts.
Craggy Range – Le Sol – Shiraz – 2019. A very contrasting style where the oak (37% new) is much more noticeable, but in no way overpowering. This is a traditional new world red with ripe, structured fruit, along with excellent depth and power. But this is a long-term prospect…
Domaine Ogier – Côte Rotie – Mon Village – 2018. Did not show well on the day.
Shaw and Smith – Balhannah – Shiraz – 2019. A very interesting contrast. Another cooler climate shiraz, but here there is a degree of textural plushness that stands it apart. Virtually seamless, the fruit less overt, whilst the texture is key indicator of quality. Superb, but needs years…
Frankland Estate – Isolation Ridge – Riesling – 2012. A museum release that is only available in tiny quantities. Lovely toast and aromatics on both the nose and palate. A classic aged Australian Riesling. This really benefited from time in the glass, so a quick swirl in a decanter is probably in order to get the best out of this wine.
Frankland Estate – Alter Weg – Riesling – 2021. I love this wine. So complex and powerful, with great depth and colour.