2009 Arete "The Road Less Travelled" Sauvignon Blanc

Adelaide Hills, Woodside 12.4% Screwcap RRP $20- Tasted 9-10/9/09
I almost felt like I was “there” during the making of this wine (which means a lot if you live in Brisbane). David Brookes from Teusner started the tweeting of its production and Richard Bate, the wine maker updated the course of its maturation. And it’s a fascinating little story, so I think I’ll share it with you.

Richard wanted to make a different style of Savy, inspired by the Pouilly-Fume style. But I reckon he’s a bit too much of an innovator to stop there. The wine was bottled using 3 different parcels of fruit, all basket pressed and fermented in seasoned French oak.

First Parcel- harvested at 10.5Be and inoculated with (get this) a strain of yeast usually intended for dry reds. This one gave the poor guy a fair bit of anxiety during ferment but turned out to be his favourite. Lees did the job. And it was the lees that first drew my attention to the wine. Teusner’s 2008 Woodside SB had converted me to the interesting texture that lees can add to Sauvignon Blanc’s acidity and minerality.

Second Parcel- 11.5Be and wild fermented

Third Parcel- 11.8Be and fermented with an aromatic yeast

Then it was given a decent dose of battonage with some barrels undergoing partial malo as well. 6 months later the wine was bottled without any fining.

That’s gutsy and complex wine making in my books. And once I tasted it (none got to the neighbours, it was too good and too interesting for me to share!), I could add that it was intelligent wine making. It’s a savoury and textural wine. The rs is at 0.2g/L! That is an amazingly low amount of residual sugar for any wine.

It had a very expressive nose of funky struck match, guava, citrus, paw paw, grass and a hint of melon. In the glass it was very pale straw and the clarity was superb. It entered with some nice sharp and defined fruit flavour which quickly moved into a savoury and soft texture. Then the mealiness and nuts kicked in with some bread and cheese notes before the mineral like acid moved the wine into sharper focus with spice and nettle on a long finish. It was one hell of a ride, an adventure in tasting wine. The phenolics built up a bit, which as far as I’m concerned added to the amazing texture and cried out for food. So I had it with food and it was even better.

Apparently Richard didn’t quite get exactly what he was after and is hoping for even more out of the next vintage. Well, I’m looking forward to that one then.

Now I’ve talked a lot about ARTifice and wine making in this tasting note. And I consider Richard Bate to be a true ARTisan wine maker. But this wine still tasted like an Adelaide Hills, Woodside Sauvignon Blanc. The vineyard that the grapes were sourced from still came through. Burgundy perhaps lays claim to the term “terroir” the most, yet its wine see all sorts of wine maker input. And, from my limited experience, they still taste of Burgundy. I haven’t seen anyone dispute that. So I do not consider minimal intervention to be the only form of expressing terroir. This wine makes that case in a very compelling and enjoyable manner.

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