The Koerner brothers have made somewhat of a name for themselves with vermentino, making two styles, one fermented on skins, and the other with a little pre-ferment skin contact, then pressed to 600-litre barrels to ferment and age on lees. This is the Koerners’ oak-aged version, an early-picked lithe wine with subtle orchard fruits and a dryly savoury and gently textural pitch on the palate.
There’s a flintiness to this, and a saline mineral feel that wafts amongst the aromas of stone fruit kernel, waxy fruit box notes, lemon blossom and glossy red apple skin, with a savouriness from oak very quietly pulling the fruit into line. This is flavourful, but light on its feet, with a fine, lightly textural and grippy feel. There’s no obvious sweetness of fruit here, but no lack of flavour or hardness either, with perfect savoury pitch and harmony, finishing with a little lemon barley water pucker that adds interest to the finish.
Themes of this wine
While vermentino is grown in Corsica, and in Southern France under the synonym rolle, it is in Italy that the variety reaches its peak. With a primary home in Sardinia and on the Ligurian coast, it is also minimally grown in Piedmont, where it is called favorita. The wines can be poised and citric with green apple notes, or fuller with stone fruit, grapefruit and lifted florals, with either end of the spectrum often having a lightly saline character.
A couple of hours north of Adelaide, the Clare Valley is home to some of Australia’s most famous riesling vineyards, with the grape accounting for almost 40 per cent of the plantings, with shiraz a close second, though cabernet sauvignon is also made to good acclaim. The soils vary across the five subregions, from terra rossa over limestone, to grey loams over slate, to fertile alluvial soils in the north. With a continental climate, the warm conditions benefit from the cool nights, retaining acidity in the grapes while the ample sunlight pushes the fruit to ripeness during the day.