In the most recent edition of the ‘Wine & Viticulture Journal’ (September/October 2011) Bleasedale winemaker Paul Hotker makes the following remark regarding Verdelho – “who needs Vermentino; if we called it [Verdelho] Vermentino we’d sell three times as much.” Hmmm…I’m not so sure about that but there’s no denying Verdelho has an image problem.
I can’t say it’s a variety for which I have much affection. Many still see the grape in terms of its potential to wean casual drinkers off Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. The fact of the matter is that, at the less expensive end of the market, Verdelho generally lacks the regional signature, focus and definition which has played a significant part in the Savalanche phenomenon. Yes, it can display approachable, easy going tropical fruit characters with a herbaceous edge but more often than not it presents an amorphous, sweet fruit salad profile with its lack of detail glossed over by a recommendation to drink it with “Asian-style cuisines or spicy food”. I think I’d prefer a beer.
Of course, there are exceptions. The Swan Valley has a good track record. Then there’s this wine from De Bortoli. Ten months on lees and a little oak has imparted a groovy pliability without threatening the honeysuckle florals. There’s some detail to the flavours – honeydew melon, bosc pear and lemon shoulder the load with bitter nuts adding further interest. The addition of a splash of grassy, tangy Sauvignon Blanc is obvious but it helps animate the palate. It won’t replace any particular wine in a drinker’s repertoire but at the price, it is a handy addition. Good
Tasted: October 2011