At a recent dinner with second generation winemaker and proprietor Hunter Smith, I tasted through a sampling of wines from his family’s Western Australian winery. Frankland Estate was founded in 1988 by Hunter’s parents. Their portfolio is composed of wines that are grown and shepherded through the winemaking process to highlight the unique characteristics of their vineyard sites. What I found when I tasted through is a series of wines that are distinct and balanced. Offerings loaded with typicity and showcasing the unique circumstances of each vineyard. These wines also have connective tissues between them which are highlighted by tremendous mouthfeel, racy acid, and proportion across the board. Here are my thoughts on the wines from Frankland Estate that you should seek out.
For those in the ever shrinking number who don’t realize Australia has a ton to offer outside of overripe shiraz, these wines put the lie to that myth. Hunter Smith and his family have dropped the gauntlet here. The rieslings are each singular, the shiraz juicy and balanced, and then there’s Olmo’s Reward. It’s practically impossible to overstate how delicious and impressive this wine is. Taste it for yourself and I’m certain you’ll agree.
Frankland Estate 2014 Rocky Gully Riesling ($24.99)
This wine is 100 percent riesling, produced from fruit sourced at several sites within the Frankland River region. Lemon ice and stone fruit aromas appear on the nose. The beautiful and light palate ha a gentle hint of sweetness to it. Apricot and bits of lychee fruit are in evidence. White pepper and mineral notes dot the above average finish.
Frankland Estate Poison Hill Riesling 2014 ($34.99)
This is a single vineyard wine produced exclusively from riesling sourced at the Poison Hill Vineyard. Linseed oil and bits of petrol dot the nose here. The palate shows off tangerine and apricot flavors along with white pepper spice. The long finish is loaded with bits of limestone and sour yellow fruits. Each of their rieslings is delicious, but this was my absolute favorite of the bunch.
Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Riesling 2014 ($39.99)
This single vineyard effort is entirely riesling sourced at the namesake site which is dry farmed utilizing organic methodologies. White peach aromas dominate the lovely lose. The stunning mouthfeel here steals the show. Lending to it are hints or orange zest, stone fruit, and more. The persistent finish is studded with mineral notes in droves.
Frankland Estate SmithCullam Riesling 2012 ($64.99)
This riesling was produced from fruit sourced at the Isolation Ridge Vineyard. Fermentation was closely monitored to achieve the desired balance of sugar and acid. When that’s reached, the wine is chilled to halt the process. Lemon curd aromas fill the nose here along with bits of savory herb. A mélange of citrus elements lead the palate and they’re joined by mineral notes and light bits of spice. There’s a well-proportioned attack of sweetness on the finish which is counter-balanced by zippy acid.
Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Shiraz 2011 ($39.99)
All of the fruit (100 percent shiraz) was sourced at three unique locations within Isolation Ridge. After fermentation, it spent 18 months in French Oak Puncheons. Mineral and blackberry aromas fill the nose here. Black raspberry flavors are strewn through the deep, juicy, and ultimately well-proportioned palate. Hints of sour black cherry and chocolate sauce are in evidence on the lengthy finish. If you need evidence that Australian shiraz can be loaded with delicious, ripe, New World fruit while maintaining impeccable balance and never straying over the top, this is exhibit A.
Frankland Estate Olmo’s Reward 2012 ($54.99)
This offering is a blend composed of three Bordeaux varities: cabernet franc (70 percent), cabernet sauvignon (19 percent), and petit verdot (11 percent). Olmo’s Reward opens with a remarkably floral nose that’s also dotted with bits of leather and red cherry. The palate is remarkably deep and complex with wave after wave of gently layered flavors. Red fruits, tobacco leaf, and a host of spices are all in play. The finish is prodigiously long and keeps coming at you just when you think it’s gone. As soon as it is, you reach for another sip and soon enough the glass is empty. If you want to contemplate a bottle of wine over a fine meal with a friend, Olmo’s Reward would be a great choice. Its exquisite charms and layers of complexity will keep you engaged for hours. This is easily the best of their wines that I sampled. But that’s a bit like saying Babe Ruth was the greatest Yankee; there have been many other great Hall of Fame Yankees.