Allan Johnson took our group through a tasting of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir barrel samples to show us what the 2017 vintage has yielded. We were very pleased with what we saw. The wines are lighter than the immediate previous vintages, but were fresh and aromatically fruity, with some acid tension apparent, and well-expressed and handled textures. My notes follow.
Pale straw-yellow colour. An elegant bouquet with white stonefruits and nutty notes, the oaking very subtle. On palate very elegant, with citrus and white stonefruits. Lovely acid edge, with nutty and marzipan notes carrying with good length.
Light straw-yellow colour. This is fresh and taut, but with good intensity, showing white stonefruits and subtle citrus fruit notes, moderate richness and with spicy oak aromas. On palate, this has richness from the fruit as well as spicy oak. Good elegance and appropriate proportion and weight. A fine line and length from the acidity.
Pale red colour. The nose has strawberry and raspberry aromas, this is very attractively fragrant and pure with soft-red florals. On palate quite elegant, lighter, but with good fruit clarity of red berry fruit entwined with red floral lift. The acidity is a feature, and the tannin extraction light.
Pale red colour, this nose shows dark-red berry fruit with dark floral lift. On palate the dark-red berry fruit shows with good depth and intensity, the florals a little darker with violet notes. This has fine tannins, and a thread of edgy acidity, and good length.
Light colour, the primary fruitiness is the feature, with good aromatic depth and density of dark-red and hints of black fruits, but also a subtle layering of whole bunch herb fragrances. Quite rich on the palate, with fruit sweetness, matched by good structure and underlying power. Fruitiness and savoury interest here.
Light in colour. This has a full nose with good aromatic volume and layers of dark-red fruits with savoury herb/undergrowth complexities, Classic Abel expression here. Plenty of structure on the palate with a complex amalgam of savoury flavours, all underpinned by fresh acidity and fine tannin extraction. This has good interest and reasonably serious mouthfeel.
Light ruby-red colour. The nose is bright with up-front fruit aromatics, showing raspberry notes with peppery and subtle fresh herb lift. Bright and juicy on palate, the dark raspberry fruit the feature. The fruit is enlivened by fresh acidity, and there is good balancing structure and extract. A luscious finish. This clone has much to offer.
The 2017 wines tasted are indeed somewhat lighter than those of previous vintages 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013. The lightness is accompanied by cooler fruit expression, and less fruit sweetness and richness. However, the aromatic intensity and fragrant beauty of the wines – both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir was intensified. The fruit has attractive clarity and transparency.