West is best, point blanc

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Wine -

MAR­GARET River con­tin­ues to make the ma­jor­ity of Aus­tralia's finest Semil­lon Sauvi­gnon Blanc (SSB) blends.

Even though WA only has 4 per cent of the na­tion's semil­lon and 9 per cent of the na­tion's sauvi­gnon blanc, the State con­tin­ues to dom­i­nate the na­tional re­views and cap­i­tal city show cir­cuit.

In James Hal­l­i­day's re­cently re­leased Aus­tralian Wine Com­pan­ion '2016' Edi­tion, the 2012 Cape Men­telle Wall­cliffe and 2013 Fraser Gal­lop Parterre SSB are the two high­est pointed wines on 97 points.

WA gained eight of the top 10 and 24 of the top 29 high­est pointed sauvi­gnon blanc semil­lon (SBS) blends (83 per cent).

The styles have evolved sig­nif­i­cantly over the past 20 years.

The most pop­u­lar of these blends from the ’80s and ’90s were lively, soft, fresh, fruity, tangy and overtly flavoured.

A sub-cat­e­gory at the rea­son­ably priced end of the mar­ket also had a dis­cernible, if bal­anced, hint of sweet­ness.

The finest wines to­day have a great depth of qual­ity fruit, are leaner, drier and more com­plex, from ju­di­ciously han­dled, high­qual­ity oaked com­po­nents.

On a num­ber of oc­ca­sions in the past few years, Cullen man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and chief wine­maker Vanya Cullen has pro­duced the best re­viewed SSB or SBS blend of the vintage from the two dif­fer­ent ver­sions she re­leases.

The Cul­lens craft an SSB from the Man­gan vine­yard – which is al­ways slightly softer, fruitier and far more ap­peal­ing on first re­lease – and a Cullen vine­yard SBS each vintage.

This is leaner and less ap­proach­able ini­tially but at 1215 months af­ter re­lease, in­vari­ably be­comes the su­pe­rior wine.

Cullen and Pierro, who are amongst the re­gion's finest pro­duc­ers, of­ten show­case this style's age­ing abil­ity by host­ing ver­ti­cal tast­ings span­ning five to 10 vin­tages.

The Cullen Man­gan Vine­yard SSB 2013 is still on the shelves and is drink­ing mar­vel­lously: lightly oaked, com­plex, dry, round and com­plete, with no awk­ward corners or edges and with sat­is­fy­ing and re­lax­ing bal­ance.

It shows qual­ity fruit, an un­der­stand­ing of wine­mak­ing and a hint of age, com­bined to pro­vide lovely cur­rent drink­ing. 18.3 points, $35.

Above: Cullen man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and chief wine­maker Vanya Cullen. Left: Cullen Wines Res­tau­rant at dusk.

With John Jens

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