Swan Valley Chenin Blanc – Back to the Future
Barry Weinman – 2nd July 2020
World Chenin Day last week was an opportunity to move my focus to the Swan Valley. Chenin Blanc, along with Shiraz are the most important grapes grown on Perth’s doorstep. And the panel celebrated with extraordinary tastings.
Firstly, we tasted a cross-section of WA Chenin Blanc, followed by a six-wine vertical from John Kosovich. The later left the panel gob-smacked by the intensity and depth of flavour that Swan Valley Chenin can achieve.
The winery was founded in 1922 as Westfield Wines by Lile (Jack) Kosovich, before his son John took over as winemaker. Fast forward half a century and 2003 saw the winery’s name changed in celebration of John Kosovich’s 50th vintage.
Whilst the vineyard holdings have expanded to Pemberton, Swan Valley remains the focus for Chenin Blanc, fortified wines and some excellent reds.
Third generation winemaker Arch is now firmly at the helm, and Chenin Blanc continues to shine. Whilst they are delicious young, their ability to age is legendary, with the vibrant acidity laying at the heart of this.
The 2011, for example, is still fresh and vibrant with just a touch of honeyed development showing. This has years ahead of it (especially under screw cap).
The brilliant 2013 is still available in limited quantities and is worth a drive to the valley to pick up a bottle or two.
Excellent Chenin Blanc is now produced across the state and deserves more attention.
tripe.Iscariot – Chenin Blanc – Absolution – 2018 (17.4/20pts). Pale straw colour. Neutral nose, with gentle pear aromatics. The palate is textured with a touch of viscosity. Excellent acid balance drives the finish. Hints of lanolin and minerality, with gentle melon and honeysuckle notes.
LAS Vino – Chenin Blanc – CBDB – 2018 (18/20pts). Fresh and pristine, with pear to the fore. The palate is a delightful blend of primary fruit and viscous, mouthcoating texture, with a little lanolin greasiness (phenolics) thrown in for good measure. Vibrant and long, with excellent depth of flavours.
LS Merchants – Chenin Blanc – 2019 (17.5/20pts). Whilst this is relatively neutral, there is a lot to like. Textured and slightly viscous, with the fine acid balance a feature. Textured and intrinsically powerful, with honeysuckle, almond meal and a touch of beeswax. Will be great with food.
Vino Volte – Chenin Blanc – Funky and Fearless – 2019 (17.8/20pts). Very enticing nose, with hints of pear skin, honeysuckle and tropical fruit, balanced by vibrant lime juice acidity. The gentle viscosity is a feature and a touch of phenolics adds depth and mouthfeel. Fine, long and textured, this is drinking a treat.
Corymbia – Chenin Blanc – 2019 (17.5/20pts). From the same vineyard as the Vino Volte, but a different expression. Aromatic and fragrant, with pink lady apple, fine texture and vibrant acidity. Generous, textured and drinkable, the intensity building in the mouth.
Marri Wood Park – Chenin Blanc – 2018 (17.8/20pts). Textural and fragrant, with innate power. Complex and balanced, with supple winemakers’ inputs on the nose and palate. Excellent acidity.
Marc Bredif – Chenin Blanc – Classic – 2016 (18/20pts). This is a lovely wine. Floral and fragrant, with a touch of residual sugar that adds depth and balance on the palate. Pear, honeysuckle and gentle toast all add to the package. Complex, racy acidity builds on the close. A classic Loire Valley Chenin that will age brilliantly.
John Kosovich – Chenin Blanc – Bottle Aged Reserve – 2010 (17.7/20pts). Lovely gentle toasted notes on the nose. The palate is complex, rich and intense with the honeyed toasty notes carrying the finish. The vibrant acidity keeps things fresh.
John Kosovich – Chenin Blanc – Bottle Aged Reserve – 2011 (18.2/20pts). Fresh and vibrant, with delicious honeysuckle fruit and a touch of toast adding depth. The acidity is a highlight. The length of the palate and persistence of flavours are remarkable. A great drinking wine that has years ahead of it. Perhaps a touch of residual sugar to round out the package.
John Kosovich – Chenin Blanc – Bottle Aged Reserve – 2013 (18.2/20pts – $36). Very long and intense, with honeysuckle, lavender and spice. Supple, textured and delicious, yet complex and focused. The balance is a highlight, with racy acidity on the finish. No oak used. Great drinking now, but also worthy of 5-10 years in the cellar.
John Kosovich – Chenin Blanc – 2014 (18.6/20pts). With the most intense and powerful fruit in the tasting, this is quite superb. The depth on the palate is amazing, with a delicious saline tang adding to the texture. Brilliant length and balance and, remarkably, still a little closed on the finish. Outstanding!