Golding ‘La Francesa’ Savagnin 2010 (Adelaide Hills, SA)
13.5%, Screwcap, $25
About 18 months ago I attended what was at the time the biggest tasting of Savagnin ever, with a dozen different wines assembled and presented by several of their makers in what was a round table discussion about the variety and it’s future. I went in with an open mind, even though I’ve never been convinced that Albariño is anything but Spain’s version of Pinot Grigio, and came away plainly disappointed. Disappointed that no one seemed to know what good Albariño/Savignin should taste like and dismayed by how bland and lacking in texture these wines were.
Fast forward to 2011 and I’m again approaching this version of the style with an open mind, again hoping to see something that might take cues from good Albariño (such as the Valminor Albariño). But, again, the resultant wine lacks texture and flavour, even though it is meant to be a top example of the style. Chalk it up as another (grey) mark against the cause.
So what’s the wine like then?
It has an unusual nose for a start, with peppered grapefruit, celery, vegetable oil and strongly lifted acidity dominating proceedings. The palate too seems to bear little resemblance to the Galician forms that it is supposed to be emulating, with a Riesling like profile that is dominated by sparkling citrus acidity and finished with some phenolic hardness. As a dry white wine it’s still clean, well made and bright, but as a drink it’s lean, hard and lacking in enough generosity to have you reaching for a second glass.
In the end it’s not terrible, and thus doesn’t deserve a shellacking points-wise, but it’s also the sort of wine that has you questioning exactly why it doesn’t sound like the back label describes it as. Call me a grump, a one-eyed, Riesling loving grump, but I just can’t see the intention of a wine like this… 15.6/86
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General agreement from me about this wine. Tasted like young vines, with a thin-fruit character and texture through the palate.
That said, there is a spectrum of albarino styles, from a riesling-ish end to a white-burgish end. Something like Santiago Ruiz can be at the riesling end with Valminor's deeper yellow and weighty texture at the whie burg end.
There is a sweet spot for me in the spectrum, where the wines get a balance between riesling and white burg attributes. Fefinanes is a good example of this for me.
While savagnin (with the different clones of albarino, plus cainho blanco) make up many of the 'albarino' vineyards in Galicia, I'm not yet convinced that savagnin on its own will be able to hit that sweet spot. Though, touch wood, our savagnin fruit at Quarry Hill was looking really good last night when I went round for a look.