Banner caption: View of Ballandean Station
This story focuses on recognising the recent white wines of the Ballandean region; a dominant grape growing sub-district of the Granite Belt Geographic Indication (GI).
The vineyards are quite highly elevated—from 700 to 850 metres, which is in the top ten percent of vineyard regions in Australia. The essence of such mini-climates is very fresh white wines, pristine in varietal speech and generally delicate or fruity in the mouth. They thrive on being made dry as a dab of sugar is unwarranted, and appreciation is best as they present naturally.
So here is a selection of four whites from this high-country outpost of the GI.
Ballandean Estate SBS Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2012 90 (11.6%), Ballandean, Granite Belt ($18); an unwooded wine made continuously for over 20 years; but now a lot more finessed with the blending and the finer grapes now grown. This year is 60% semillon —the rich citrus and hints of honey bits, then the tropical and vegetal notes on nose and palate come from the 40% sauvignon. So, light bodied and light alcohol, steely palate, great with mussels or pan fried white fish as accompaniment. http://www.ballandeanestate.com
Ballandean Estate Fiano 2012 93 (12.6%), Ballandean, Granite Belt ($22); a reasonably new varietal to this country; most of the plantings of it are found in the hills east of Naples in Italy. Winemaker Dylan Rhymer has made a smashing success of this as his first vintage—lovely green colour, and lots of peach, musk, bitter melon aromas then neat, light-medium bodied taste which will enliven any unwooded white drinker. The wine is dry, the acids freshening, sufficient to consume it with poultry dishes made in Mediterranean ways. Last stocks.
Ballandean Estate Viognier 2012 96 (13.5%), Ballandean, Granite Belt ($18); this company has made many viogniers, and sequentially made each vintage is a less full-bodied form, now without oak aging, and recently with lesser ripeness and lowered alcohol. The key with the variety this maker has discovered , is to not make the wine too over-flavoured. However it is still full bodied wine, but not over-the-top, though difficult to sell in great masses. Maybe it because the buying public struggle with the name-ask for vee-on-yeah, if you wish to get the French means of saying it. Quite a lovely wine.
Sirromet Vineyard Selection Pinot Gris 2011 92 (13.7%), Ballandean, Granite Belt ($21); this is a white deliberately building in the bottle so age is beneficial. Unlike the standard Sirromet gris bottlings which are drunk before they turn one-year-old, this wine is selected for its additional ripeness and weight of flavours. Kept aside, it is aged on its yeast for 8 months to gain additional texture, allowing the wine to grow before the bottling decision comes along. Brassy colour, pear and spice nose, then a pure fruit and medium textured taste; quite good with sauerkraut and pork sausage dishes. http://www.sirromet.com
You can read more wine tasting reviews from Master of Wine Peter Scudamore-Smiths here: www.uncorkedandcultivated.com.au/blog/
This article was first published in Queensland Country Life as part of Peter’s regular Tip of the Tongue series.
Uncorked and Cultivated conduct annual bespoke wine and food tours for small groups to drinkable destinations in Italy. Find out more by visiting http://www.uncorkedandcultivated.com.au/tours or calling Denise on +61 412 403 567.