First published on 10 Nov 2010. Updated on 29 Apr 2011.
An emerging white wine category – white wine blends with three or more grape varieties – has wine fans clutching their pearls and fanning themselves in excitement. This isn't a tribute to insipid ‘classic' white blends or careless fruit salad composition, but careful varietal selection that leads to individual, considered styles. These are wines with great complexity when young - the multiple varieties co-exist, creating layers of flavour and texture that you wouldn't ordinarily find in a single varietal equivalent. The great thing about these fresh, vibrant wines is their ultimate drinkability - they are approachable immediately, require no decanting, ageing or pontificating. Yup, that means that you can dive straight in and get plenty of flavour early. Best of all, these blends often represent exceptional value for money. Meanwhile, multiple variety blends are often also better appreciated with food too, being the structured beasts that they are. Acidity is often higher, meaning the wines are vital and bright, and when higher sugar levels or riper grapes are found, the wines are counter-balanced by multiple varieties, perking things up. White blends with pinot gris/grigio dominating often show tropical fruits, spice and slippery texture, while traditional French and Italian variety-dominant wines have intense, tightly bound structures and suggestions of minerality. Australian producers are fast catching up to European producers who have been making these ‘big white blends' for generations, seeking complexity, depth of texture and balance.
Spinifex Barossa Valley Lola 2009
(Semillon; Marsanne; Ugni Blanc; Vermentino; Viognier)
The wine opens with lifted floral characters, nutty complexity and exotic tropical fruits then segues to the palate with a distinctive feminine framework and freshness that includes white pear, marzipan, spice and a rich, layered finish. RRP$20 Vaucluse Cellars, 58 New South Head Rd, Vaucluse 2030. (02 9337 1765).
Jermann Vinnae 2008
(Ribolla Gialla; Tocai Friulano; Riesling)
From Northern Italy, the wine kicks off with candied fruit jubes, nashi pear and river stones while the palate shows green apple, tangy grapefruity acidity and mineral complexity. It's delicate, balanced and precise. RRP$55 Five Way Cellars, 4 Heeley St, Paddington 2021. (02 9361 4242).
Quealy Mornington Peninsula Pobblebonk 2008
(Pinot Grigio; Friulano; Chardonnay; Muscat Giallo; Riesling)
A curious blend from cool Victorian vineyards, the wine shows muted honeysuckle and white peach aromatics and a bright, expressive palate with a long, juicy finish. Racy without being lean, this is a sensational food wine, yet shows enough pluck to work as an aperitif. RRP$22 Summer Hill Wine Shop, 7 Lackey St, Summer Hill 2130. (02 9798 7282).
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