The truth about serious Sauvignon Blanc
I was first acquainted with Sauvignon Blanc in my parent’s vineyard in 1983. At that stage it was mostly blended with Semillon in the signature Margaret River Semillon Sauvignon Blanc wines – a style for the region. After working at Domaine de Chevalier in 1995, I really focussed on taking these wines to the next level with my time at Voyager Estate, and then with Suckfizzle.
A visit to Sancere and Pouilly Fume in 2004 really showed me just what Sauvignon Blanc can do on its own. It doesn’t have to be brash, and in your face; it can have poise, subtlety, length of palate, complexity, and can be very refined. The Flowstone Sauvignon Blanc is my journey in discovering, and showing, how compelling and sophisticated Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc can be.
Sauvignon blanc in the vineyard
For me, this all starts in the vineyard. The Flowstone SB comes from one single vineyard in the Karridale region of Margaret River – the southern parts and the coolest part of MR. This is a very special vineyard that I have been familiar with for over 10 years. It was planted in the late 90’s by two nice old locals, who have now kindly let me lease it. This does allow me to have much more insight and input as to what happens on the vineyard. I treat this vineyard like most others treat their best Chardonnay or Pinot blocks. All the work is hand done, from pruning to harvesting, crops are deliberately low, and there is no irrigation. This vineyard has always been the source for the Flowstone Sauvignon Blanc, and now that I am directly involved, I can see it really stepping up. The future looks very exciting.
Gentle winemaking approach
In the winery, everything is done in a very low key, gentle manner. The grapes are hand picked, stored in the cool room overnight, then whole fruit pressed the next day. This processing of the whole bunches, rather than putting them through a crusher/destemmer, then a big pump, helps to deliver wines of more subtlety, nuance and texture. The juice is then settled overnight. The next day, this cloudy juice is put to barrel – 600 litre Demi Muids. This is as just as I saw in a particular producer in Sancerre that makes stunning wines. None of these barrels are new. The wine ferments in these large barrels, and then stays in them for about a year. There is the occasional battonage, when I remember. The barrels are then blended together, minimally fined and filtered, then off to bottle. Once in bottle, it rests there for about 18 months until the wine is released.
Tasting and appraisal
This total gentle process really delivers wines of complexity, texture and interest. Sauvignon Blanc flavours of guava, feijoa, nectarine, and hints of whole passionfruit certainly show through, but there is wonderful brioche and oatmeal complexity. The palate is what really sets it apart, with strong, but not overpowering fruit, great length and persistence, lovely texture, and above all, it demands your attention, because you sense it is something special.
I think this is my favourite Flowstone wine, and in the words of James Halliday – “unlike any other Sauvignon Blanc in Australia”. The 2016 is quite possibly the best I have made.
Scarce and unique
Help me celebrate the uniqueness of this wine, and enjoy it through the coming Spring and Summer, and feel free to keep some in the cellar. You will be surprised as to how well it ages.