Julian Colville, proprietor of Sugarloaf Ridge rushed through Singapore recently, on-route to the Cool-Climate Conference in Tasmania. Yes, their vineyard is in Tasmania but career commitments have taken the family to Amsterdam for the present.
We only had half an hour to talk, covering a lot of ground but hardly touched vineyard matters. Apologetically, he left me already opened, unlabelled samples of his 2010 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, to which I immediately administered WINESAVE, and said I would look at the wines the next day.
As it turned out, with two bouts of the flu later and a backlog of tasting, I did not get around to tasting the wines until now, some 4 weeks later. Well, I have to say the wines opened perfectly with no signs of oxidation.
They are both flattering wines and I sense from a warmer or certainly ripe vintage although have yet to even discuss the characteristics of the vintage with Julian.
I’m a strong supporter of Sugarloaf Ridge wines and their winemaker, Julian Alcorso, as you should be too. Tasmanian wines are rarely exported as demand in the home market and that other bigger island, Australia, soaks it all up, however Sugarloaf Ridge seems to travel like its owners and you just never know when you might be pleasantly surprised with their appearance.
If you happen to live in Hong Kong, I do know their agent, Limestone Wines, http://limestonewines.com.hk has a small quantity of the their brilliant 2006 Pinot Noir which I have wrote extensively on http://www.thewanderingpalate.com/new-world-pinot-noir/sugarloaf-ridge-wines-absolute-blinders/
2010 Sugarloaf Ridge Chardonnay
Deep golden peach and ripe apricot perfume amongst mandarin and tangerine citrus, a lifted cinnamon spiciness and perceptible creaminess with sweet notes of Manuka honey and musk-like dried-stone-fruits complexity, a rich, nutty oiliness and increasing spiciness with pork crackling, smokiness building to an intense bouquet with an infusion of wet limestone minerality. Creamy, slippery soft mouth-filling palate with a saturation of poached peaches and cream, exuberant in way yet superbly elegant and seamless with a surge of grapefruit and tangerine tingly acidity, then a second wave of intense peach and persistent Seville marmalade tang with a lurking warming, spiciness and chalky minerality. All quite deceptive really, in its silky, elegance and barely noticeable oak as wine lingers long on the farewell and you begin to comprehend how powerful this chardonnay actually is, concentrated and pure in its fruit, intensely spicy with invigorating acidity. Having followed their wines closely, I sense both a riper vintage and evolution in style and a wine of considerable ageing potential even though it is thoroughly delicious now.
2010 Sugarloaf Ridge Pinot Noir
Dense, sweet black cherry and blueberry, a discernible lushness to the perfume and black plum and berry fruits compote concentration, smoky with roasted beetroot, spicy salami and dried meats, builds in complexity with some cigar tobacco smells, tea leaves and earthy, baked black clay, as it opens up with breathing the bouquet has an intoxicating and alluring mix of fruit sweetness, herbals qualities and spiciness; the spiciness I associate to a smoky hot wok with pepper and cardamom and there’s a whiff of flinty gun smoke, the herbal qualities are like wild thyme and lavender but a winter Provence. There’s a saturation of sweet black cherry and dark plum as the wine seemingly explodes in fruit, crunchy, zingy totally vibrant and lifted by tangy acidity, you can’t help but fell the lightness of the wine and yet this is density of flavour and lushness, really quite gorgeous and seductive in it creamy, silky smoothness and almost invisible tannins, with just a hint of Oolong tea flavours and some fireside charcoals; but then the intense tangy, soy savouriness and long spicy earthy farewell driving home how brilliantly complex and structured the wine is. Consistent in style and with my previous notes, I have to again make the comparison to Cru Beaujolais Moulin-a-Vent with such brightness and sweetness of fruit yet with the extract and acidity that will undoubtedly see it age well past 10 years. I can’t imagine anyone not being completely hooked on this wine; it’s everything you would want in pinot noir – expressive, juicy, silky, plush and wonderfully idiosyncratic.
Visit www.sugarloafridge.com.au for more background on the vineyard or to find a stockist in your part of the world, also purchases can be made direct from the vineyard.