The Swan Valley does a lot of things well but there are two varieties that it does extra well — chenin blanc and verdelho.
These two distinctive white varieties have been Swan staples for decades and the recent Swan Valley Wine Show provided further evidence of just how good they can be.
With spring upon us there is no better time to visit the Swan and pick up some winners — in most cases they are not available in retail outlets and may be in limited supply at the cellar.
These all won gold medals at the show.
Pinelli Family Reserve chenin blanc 2007 ($35)
This is a fabulous example of a Swan Valley chenin blanc at its best. Has a distinctive toasty developed aroma with stone fruit and honey, plus a little brioche character. The palate is generous but still with a fresh lemony acid balance that sustains the finish.
Excellent wine that captures the essence of the valley perfectly. 95/100 (Best drinking: Now to 2017. Alc: 13.5%)
Faber Vineyard verdelho 2009 ($42.50)
This is a re-release of a wine I liked when it first came out some years ago. And it’s why the guys in the Swan have always championed this variety as a drink now or cellaring proposition.
This is so good. Developed a hint of toasty character but there is still primary verdelho in there. 94/100 (Best drinking: Now to 2019. Alc: 13.5%)
John Kosovich chenin blanc 2011 ($35)
Exquisite example of this Swan Valley variety. Slightly honeyed but still so fresh with a cutting lime edge and a sprightly acidity sustaining the long palate. Beautiful toasty influences, with stone fruit and honeysuckle lemon blossom.
So well balanced and with some years ahead of it. 93/100 (Best drinking: Now to 2021. Alc: 13.5%)
Mandoon Estate verdelho 2010 ($43 at Mandoon restaurant)
Comes off vines that are more than 100 years old. This is so beautiful, with a rich textured palate still singing the lively notes of youthfulness. A touch of stone fruit, honey and light toast with a lift of lemon.
The palate is controlled and very long, with a rich mouth feel. 94/100 ( Best drinking: Now to 2021. Alc: 13.5%)
Garbin Estate verdelho 2011 ($20)
Thoroughly gorgeous example of a verdelho that is just starting to move through the mature stage of development. Still bright and youthful, with stone fruit and a decent splash of lemon. Smooth textured palate with a sustained finish.
Great current drinking. 92/100 (Best drinking: Now to 2022. Alc: 12.7%)
Talijancich Reserve verdelho 2008 ($35)
A distinctive style that is released after extended bottle ageing. Gets quite a deal of lees impact to build the texture. It’s layered with complex marmalade and stone-fruit characters laced together into a rich, textural feel in the mouth.
There is still some ageing potential in this very individual wine. 92/100 (Best drinking: Now to 2022. Alc: 14%)