There is a Tsunami of Sauvignon Blanc in the Australian marketplace, and an awful lot of what is available gives the grape a bad name. Thin, weedy wines, where vague fruit and harsh acid bifurcate on entry, leaving the fruit wandering about aimlessly, while the acid separately hits the middle of the chest like a liquid heart attack.
Thank goodness for the handful of winemakers who produce exemplary Sauvignon Blanc.
Geoff Weaver is one of that handful, and he has, year in, year out, produced stunning Sauvignon Blanc from his vineyard at Lenswood in the Adelaide Hills.
In the early 1980s (while still making wine for Orlando and then Hardy Wine Companies – how times have changed since then!), having recognised the potential of Lenswood, with its modest soils, various aspects and long cool ripening seasons, Geoff established his vineyard there, which today runs to approximately 11 hectares of well-established, unirrigated, low cropping vines. The major plantings are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir. Geoff’s first vintage from the vineyard was released in 1985.
It is a truism in wine that you can’t make a good one unless the climate, the geography and the variety are happily married. Sauvignon Blanc and Lenswood are a case in point. The Joker in the pack is the weather, and vintage 2011 for Lenswood was not propitious.
For Geoff Weaver, the weather dictated only one wine would be made, and then only with skill and patience: a Sauvignon Blanc, sporting the usual intensity, purity, freshness and drive that typifies Geoff Weaver’s wines, carefully retrieved from an otherwise disastrous vintage.
My tasting notes for Geoff Weaver Lenswood Sauvignon Blanc 2011: a bright, pale colour with a light gold rim and green facets; the nose hints at tropical fruits, but is at the same time restrained, the palate intense and long with zesty gooseberry fruit, suggestions of crisp pear, and extraordinary length with succulent, seamless acidity as fresh as a cool mountain stream on a hot summer’s day. Overall, an impressive wine, and this from a very difficult vintage. The alcohol is a mere 11.5% (a legacy of the vintage). Highly recommended, and I can’t wait to see the 2012.
While on the subject, Geoff also makes one if my favourite Australian Chardonnays. Fine, elegant and age worthy, always. None made in 2011, but the current release, Geoff Weaver Lenswood Chardonnay 2010 is right on the money: light straw with some gold; the nose promises some power, some honeydew melon and cashew. The palate delivers, and is concentrated, very long with subtle nuances of sweet oak, meal and honeydew melon. Here is power but also balance, freshness and promise. The wine is closed with a Stelvin cap and will be all the better in 2016 and for a while beyond.
Just because I could, I also tasted Geoff Weaver Lenswood Chardonnay 2005. Powerful and subtle at the same time, complex, spicy, cream and cashew with the slightest hint of Leatherwood. At its peak now but will hold well for a few years yet, with that trademark Weaver acidity holding the wine in superb balance; again under Stelvin closure.
Geoff Weaver wines are distributed in Australia by Cellarhand (www.cellarhand.com.au) whose portfolio is well worth a visit for its breadth and interest. Geoff also sells some wine into Singapore through Cellar Deluxe at 301 Upper Thomson Road, Thomson Plaza, Singapore 574408 (ph 6556 0949).
The man himself has a simple and refreshing attitude to marketing his wines. He doesn’t; he lets the wines do their own talking, on the basis that a happy drinker is your best promoter. For more about Geoff’s wines visit www.geoffweaver.com.au. Geoff also paints and his “Early Morning – Lenswood” (1993) tops the back label of his wines; it shows the yellow and orange colours of his vineyard at dawn during December, and like all of his paintings it is inspired by the natural world and his love of and closeness to it.
As a postscript, every now and again, Geoff produces a “Ferus” Sauvignon Blanc which takes the variety to another level of intensity and complexity; wild yeast, barrel fermentation, and extended lees contact produce extra layers of flavor, complexity and power together with longevity. A wine not to be missed and worth seeking out when available.