21/07/2022 - 13:54

Frankland finds its place

21/07/2022 - 13:54


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Frankland Estate’s Isolation Ridge Vineyard is key to its latest releases.

Frankland finds its place
The Frankland Estate team.

A FEW years ago, the next generation at Frankland Estate decided it was time for a change.

The wines were already very good–outstanding in some years–with riesling and shiraz highlights.

But founders Barrie Smith and Judi Cullam, son Hunter and daughter Elizabeth, along with talented winemaker Brian Kent, began plotting a new path.

They decided more could be done with riesling and shiraz (syrah) in particular.

So, a new journey started with renewed focus on refinements in the already mature vineyards, including the introduction of exciting new shiraz clones, organic certification and a significant shift in the winery with changes in oak and how it’s used.

The results have been remarkable and the latest releases I received recently are compelling proof that the path they took was the right one.

The old Isolation Ridge Vineyard on the property is a key to the wines. It is now certified organic and reflects the commitment to sustainability in every aspect of viticulture and winemaking.

“With syrah, the culmination of older vines, the natural balance in soil through to wine are allowing the ferrous nature of Isolation Ridge Vineyard to come more to the fore,” said Hunter Smith, who with sister Elizabeth drove this new direction.

“Thinking beyond straight syrah and including new clones of syrah and the oldest planting of mourvedre in the region … all play a role in the two syrah wines in the release.

“The ironstone found on the Isolation Ridge Vineyard plays a pivotal role in the wines, together with the older dry-grown vines, larger-format oak and keeping a hands-off approach, allowing the wines in their own way to reflect what the Isolation Ridge Vineyard has to say.

”This week I have focused on the shiraz, or syrah as the stylistically different version is called.

There is a real essence of place that speaks of both vineyard and region with those slightly ferrous characters emerging.

Frankland Estate shiraz 2020 ($32)

Shiraz has been a main player with Frankland Estate almost from the get-go and this is one of the very best under this label.

Okay, the vintage was excellent, but the approach to producing a wine that is truly reflective of place has been a resounding success.

On the nose and palate, you get that ironstone ferrous intrigue that comes directly from this ancient soil. The palate is smoothly integrated with a deft use of oak and outstanding tannin management.

The balance between the sweet medium-weight fruit and those ironstone characters is what really make this wine exceptional.

Score: 96/100

Drinking: Now to 2034

Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge syrah 2020 ($52)

Small crop and small production, so this must be on your shopping list.

It is quite different from syrah-style wines made 10 years ago and reflects the heightened attention to improve the vineyard while exploring new clones.

This one is largely the Houghton clone but there is also 42 per cent clone 470 with the exciting clone 174 planned for later releases.

The aromatics are heightened by the inclusion of viognier and mourvedre.

It is such a wonderfully fragrant and perfumed wine with that underlying regional ironstone character complementing.

There is so much vibrancy and energy here. An exciting direction for Frankland Estate.

Score: 97/100

Drinking: Now to 2037

Frankland Estate SmithCullam syrah 2020 ($120)

This super wine comes from the original east-west facing winery block planed back in 1988.

It is an immensely powerful wine of great length, yet there is elegance and poise here.

Those distinctive ironstone grainy tannins provide such profound structural integrity, while the decision to mature in large format 3,500-litre oak ensured the natural freshness and vibrancy is maintained.

A little mourvedre and viognier bring just a little more into the nose.

Great stuff.

Score: 98/100

Drinking: Now to 2040

Ray Jordan is one of Australia’s most experienced and respected wine journalists, contributing to newspapers and magazines over more than 40 years. In 2017 he co-authored The Way it Was: The History of the early years of the Margaret River Wine Region


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