While other makers were still reeling after the 2009 revelation that all Australia’s albariño vines were actually savagnin, Kangarilla Road’s Kevin O’Brien was adapting. In 2011, he released his first Savagnin under flor yeast, in the style of the wines from France’s Jura region. In 2015, ‘The Veil’ is a stunningly bright affair, layered with waxy, briny umami notes and shot through with citric freshness, whipcrack dry and moreish.
This has a classic flor nose resembling Fino sherry, with chalky, nutty, sea spray umami notes and hints of orange peel, preserved lemon and sesame. This is remarkably fresh and bright for the age, with a driving salinity carrying a core of citric fruit wrapped in those waxy flor notes, a sapid drying finish drawing this long through the palate, finishing dry and with a pleasing chew and pucker of grip.
Themes of this wine
Best known for the wines of the Jura in France’s north-east, savagnin was introduced to Australia as somewhat of a stowaway. The first vines were planted at a time when vine cuttings were mislabelled, with plantings of what was thought to be albariño correctly identified as savagnin in 2009. While at the time this was of real consternation to growers, a subsequent interest in the wines of the Jura has seen that accident reframed as a somewhat happy one.
Sous voile/flor yeast
Literally translated as ‘under a veil’, sous voile is a method of maturing wine where the barrels are not topped, with a film of flor yeast developing on top of the wine. This ‘veil’ protects the wine from oxidation, while converting the acids to aldehydes, which give dry Sherry its characteristic nutty and briny notes. The same process is employed in France’s Jura region to make the famous Vin Jaune (literally, yellow wine).
While it couldn’t feel any more removed from city life, the McLaren Vale wine region is inside Adelaide’s metropolitan area. And although the township itself is only 40 minutes by car from central Adelaide and vineyards brush up against ever-encroaching housing, McLaren Vale remains unaffected by the urban sprawl. With deeply etched history, the Vale has a slow-paced sense of calm and an extraordinary wealth of untrammelled beauty. It is home to some of this country’s most beautifully pristine beaches, as well as some of the world’s most forward-thinking grape-growers and winemakers. And with over 80 cellar doors, it is an essential destination for wine lovers – and anyone else, for that matter.