Book, stay, enjoy. That's

Saturday 7 October 2023

Briar Ridge takes an alternative route

It is a sign of the changing times when you receive new release white wine samples from a winery in the Hunter Valley and they include limited-release fiano and albariño. 

Briar Ridge's new releases do, of course, include a couple of semillons - the region's benchmark white variety - and a chardonnay, but alternative varieties that are heat-resistant are very much on the radar.

Fiano is a white Italian grape variety that is grown primarily in Campania in southern Italy, and on the island of Sicily. Albariño is widely grown in north-west Portugal and in Galicia in Spain. The pair  are both from the 2023 vintage ($35 each).

Located in the lovely hills of Mount View, the Briar Ridge vineyard is producing some outstanding wines under the leadership of winemaker Alex Beckett. 

I enjoyed both alternative varietals immensely, with the albariño a very elegant, fruit-forward expression with some textural elements, stone fruit and immediate drinkability, while the fiano is an altogether richer beast with nutty and honeyed characters to the fore. 

"The move to include these varieties as part of our whites release is one of Briar Ridge's initiatives from our bigger plan to work in a more holistic farming fashion, with grapes that require less input," said Beckett. 

The new releases also include the 2022 Single Vineyard 'Briar Hill' Chardonnay and the 2023 Single Vineyard 'Dairy Hill' Semillon, and 2023 Single Vineyard 'Black Cluster' Semillon (all $50). 

"For me, white wine production is about precision," Beckett says. 

"When you work with the utmost attention to detail, the end goal can be clearly aligned with your intent as a winemaker. This means wines that are delicate while still full of tension and purity.”

Of the two semillons, the Dairy Hill is a more expressive wine, concentrated and more earthy, while the Black Cluster is more on the citrus side of the spectrum with precision and purity to the fore and some flinty minerality. 

The Briar Hill Chardonnay is one for the medium term and is certainly a wine best enjoyed with food. 

It was matured for 15 months with 100% new French oak fermentation, and is powerful yet not at all overpowering. Think stone fruit, nutty complexity and the possibility of pairing with roast pork and crackling.


No comments:

Post a Comment