A passionate dedication to a place is a characteristic usually attributed to French winemakers.
It’s easy to imagine a proud and surly vigneron dismissing their neighbouring regions, and the wines those regions produce, with Gallic disdain. This fanaticism is encapsulated in the term terroirist – a winemaker who is committed to the influence their landscape has on their wine.
But this type of obsessive dedication, born of love for a place, is nothing unique to the French.
Winemakers the world over love their land, and the people behind Alkoomi Wines in Western Australia are no different. The winery’s name itself reflects this, in the local Aboriginal language Alkoomi means “a place we chose”.
It was Vic and Netta Lange who originally chose the place. They named it Alkoomi when they bought the land in 1946. Their family have been working there ever since. Alkoomi is currently owned by Rob and Sandy Hallett. Along with their three daughters, they are the third and fourth generations of their family to work the Alkoomi estate.
Viticulture at Alkoomi is focused on getting the best out of the land. Their minimal spraying programme is a minor departure from Organic practices while planting rye and clover between the vines supports soil microbiology and improves water retention. The winemakers at Alkoomi are stewards of their land. They take this role very seriously, and this dedication comes through in our two wines of the week.
Although this Alkoomi Riesling is a new arrival at Wines Direct, the Riesling grape has been at the heart of Alkoomi from the very beginning. In a 2001 interview, Merv Lange, the man who planted the first vineyards at Alkoomi, explained the importance of Riesling at Alkoomi.
“At the time, in those early years, it really was the only white variety recommended and planted in this great southern region. And to a degree, it was also in Margaret River. A lot of those very early plantings had Riesling. Riesling has simply stood the test of time, and there’s no doubt now that Frankland would be one of three absolute premium Riesling regions of Australia with the Clare and Eden Valley. And it’s stood the test of time. It’s great. The Rieslings are wonderful.”
And indeed he’s right, wonderful is a good word to describe the Alkoomi Riesling. A crystalline pale straw colour with hints of green, there’s plenty of citrus and tropical flavours to enjoy. Lemon, grapefruit and lychee feature on a long palate that has enough acidity to be properly refreshing. For a food pairing, think of the Asian influenced flavours of modern Australian cooking. Dishes lightly spiced with ginger, lemongrass, lime, coriander or fresh chillies would work well with this Riesling.
This unusual blend of Shiraz and Viognier deserves its striking bottle. The Alkoomi emblem of an Australian grass tree stands out in gold against the eponymous black label. Alkoomi Black Label Shiraz Viognier effortlessly outperforms its price point. The complex flavour and superlative value prompted Tomás Clancy of the Sunday Business Post to write:
“200km south-east of Margaret River and around 80km from the coast is Frankland River, which is where this really accomplished cool-climate, savoury northern Rhone style shiraz-viognier blend comes from. It’s a genuine old school Cote Rotie-lookalike at a fraction of the price. Expect savoury, white pepper, mocha and cherry elements leading to a muscular, refined finish.”
Predominantly Shiraz with 7% of the final volume coming from Viognier, the blended wine spends a year maturing in French oak before bottling. The result is aromatic and spicy with plenty of plum and blackberry fruits on the palate. Pairing is easy: red meats. The Alkoomi Black Label Shiraz Viognier would work well with juicy steaks, roasted or grilled beef, lamb or game (try and get your hands on some kangaroo for a delicious cliché!).
At Wines Direct, we think the pride a winemaker has in their vineyard comes through in their wines. If you want to experience the pride of Alkoomi and the Frankland river, both of these wines will be open for tasting in our shops in Mullingar and Arnotts from Monday, July 31st.