Recently, we’d been hearing more and more about the wines from Frankland Estate, located just south of Perth – famed for displaying finesse and balance, all the hallmarks of cool climate wine growing. This modest vineyard was established in 1988 by Barrie Smith and Judi Cullam, and currently is managed by daughter Elizabeth Smith and son Hunter Smith. So, you might guess that when we heard that Hunter would be in town to conduct a full day Wine Appreciation Course & dinner at the Saujana, we jumped at the chance to meet him.
The Isolation Ridge vineyard lies on part of a farm where the family have run a wool growing enterprise since 1974. Now rated amongst the nation’s most important and consistent Riesling producers, the vineyard has now qualified as ‘Certified Australian Organic’.
Listening to Hunter speak, you can tell that their approach is simple – winemaking is based on the principle that the most significant characteristics of a wine come from the soil and the vineyard environment. Their wines are therefore made to reflect nature rather than the hand of the winemaker. Sustainable farming and working the land in accordance with the cycles of nature is all essential at Frankland Estate.
When asked if they would pursue Biodynamic status one day, vs. Organic, Hunter told us that they would love to, but sometime human resource is the limiting factor. However, they do carefully nurture the health of the soils in their vineyard and only take from the vineyards as much as can be replaced by natural processes. In fact, their viticultural practices are already evident in the complexity, depth and intensity of flavour in their wines.
Riesling wines from the Frankland River region are renowned for their intense varietal flavours and crisp fresh acidity. The Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Vineyard Riesling is consistently ranked among the best in Australia and has won widespread critical acclaim. The Isolation Ridge Vineyard Riesling is made in limited quantities of other single vineyard rieslings from the Frankland River region.
Of all the wines tasted, my favourite was the Chardonnay. It was a delicious savory wine, with a nice flinty aroma – loads of character and spice. Frankland Estate produces limited quantities of chardonnay sourced from low-yielding Mendoza Clone vines in the Isolation Ridge vineyard. This clone of chardonnay is renowned for its combination of large and small berries in the same bunch. This results in low yields, especially where the proportion of small berries is high and, typically, produces highly concentrated flavours.
Using larger barrels, they managed to obtain the textural benefits of oak treatment without running the risk of imparting too much oak flavour into the wine. The result is an elegant, complex wine with fruit flavours supported by refreshing natural acidity and a subtle gunpowder aftertaste. Loved the complexity of this wine!
The wine labels at Saujana are personally crafted for the hotel, by Frankland Estate’s winemaker
Other wines we tasted included :
Named after the founders of Frankland Estate Barrie Smith and Judi Cullam, these wines are only produced in the best vintages and in extremely small quantities. A riesling of “kabinett” style (30 grams of residual sugar) and a Shiraz Cabernet blend are the only two wines produced each showing the diversity and depth of the Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge vineyard. These wines are about pushing the boundaries a little.
Olmos Reward is complex blend of cabernet franc and merlot with small components of malbec, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot. This powerful yet elegant wine highlights the suitability of the Frankland River region in producing wines of distinction and age worthiness. This wine is named after Dr Harold Olmo, the Californian viticulturalist who first identified the potential of the Frankland River region.
Single Vineyard Rieslings
Frankland Estate produce three single vineyard rieslings. Although the three vineyard sites are all located within the Frankland River appellation, they consist of three very different and unique soil types. These soils contribute towards the making of three very different and unique wines.
Perhaps one of the most isolated vineyard sites in the world it seemed only fitting that we called our vineyard site “Isolation Ridge Vineyard”. This range of single vineyard, organically grown wines reflects the uncompromising passion and devotion we have to making unique wines that reflect a true sense of place.
In house we call these wines the “second generation of Frankland Estate”. The Rocky Gully wines are opulent, fruit-driven wines highlighting the pristine quality of fruit sourced from the Frankland River region, whilst maintaining the subtle, individuality and personality that distinguish all Frankland Estate wines. Rocky Gully wines are made using the same uncompromising philosophy that underpins all of our wines at Frankland Estate.
After the Wine appreciation course, we were bestowed our certificates and then we proceeded to a lovely dinner at The Restaurant, The Club Saujana, prepared by Chef de cuisine, Chef Alexander Waschl.
King Fish Carpaccio paired with the Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Vineayard, Reisling – delicious slivers for raw king fish.. a sweetness that was heightened by the wine, tomato salsa, cucumber celery salad!
I have to say, that all the dishes found their “soul-mate” in the wine pairing that was chosen for them. Both Chef and Hunter did exceptionally well, in coming up with a marriage made in heaven, so to speak, and I think all the guests at dinner were as deeply impressed as we were.
Truffle Polenta Espuma paired with the Isolation Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay
A frothy, smooth soup that went so well with a sides of quail roulade and sweet tropea onion jam. My favourite wine so the food-wine pair could do no wrong!
An incredibly delicious pan seared scallop that paired terrifically well with the Chardonnay I thought – could not fault this pairing, but then again, I was partial towards this particular white!
Smoked Rack of Lamb paired with the Olmo’s Rewards (oven roasted potato and carrot, green pea puree, thyme sauce)
So after over 10 hours of tasting Frankland Estate wines, we still had the reserves to find that this lamb rack done a perfect medium rare, was the perfect complement to The Olmo’s Rewards – a lovely tannic red, with aftertastes of berries, and a soft finish.
Isolation Ridge Vineyard Shiraz
One of the more exciting reds – deep, chocolatey and plummy with hints of eucalyptus. Significant cedary oak matched to full-bodied fruit. Extremely plush and a nice tannic end on the sip. It’s only after a few sips that elements of savouriness become obvious. A light twist of cracked pepper. A lovely red on it’s own, or paired with red meats for sure.
Iced Caramelized Granny Apple Smith Apple Terrine – Sour Cream ice, Oven baked apple wantan
A fantastic experience with Hunter Smith and this Wine Appreciation Course was a great idea I tell you. If you would like to participate in the next one, check out details at www.shr.my – promotions or contact 03 7843 1234 ext 6122 or email at [email protected].
Priced at RM399 nett per person (without 1-night stay at The Club Room) and RM899 nett per person (with a 1-night stay at The Club Room) this exclusive “swirl and sip” session was worth every penny.
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