I’d never realized William Wordsworth was a terroirist. A meso-climate man. A bloke keen on the weather and the soil and what that did to wine.
A slumber did my spirit seal;
I had no human fears…
Rolled round in earth’s diurnal course,
With rocks, and stones, and trees.
I thought of this the other day when moderately enjoying the wines of Angullong, from NSW’s Orange region. It is the diurnal reference that sparked the thought. In certain parts of the world wine relies heavily on the action of the diurnal shift: the change in day to night temperature. Warmer regions – like the southern Rhone or altitudinous Orange in NSW – can be baked during the day, particularly over the summer period. At night, however, their local aspect (or meso-climate) kicks into gear. The fridge is turned on. The day’s heat dissipates (courtesy of the cloudless sky) and the night is cold. Cold. Like a desert. And cold temperatures lock in a grape’s natural acidity. The resultant equation is wine drinking bliss. Balance. Poise. Elegance. Many of the wines from around Orange have these qualities.
That’s why come Autumn I’m drinking wines from Angullong. The Crossing family have been sheep and cattle people hereabouts for 50 years. In 1998 they planted vines. Graziers bring an honesty to grape growing that other wine-growing agricrats often miss (but nevertheless charge for…) These wines really do speak for themselves; please, have no human fears… Oh, this offer has free freight and a healthy 15 per cent off normal prices.
Angullong Fossil Hill Riesling 2016, $20.40, down from $24
Mount Canobolas, a retired volcano, south of Orange, 350kms west of Sydney. Here the 600 metre elevation and the limestone and volcanic rock and soil (rolled round in earth’s diurnal course…) produce a super, lime-zest riesling with minerality, chalkiness and then a background fruit lick of honey dew and faint musk. Add it to your default list of Australian riesling regions. (Just don’t try to say those last three words after luncheon.)
Angullong Fossil Hill Shiraz Viognier 2014, $22.10, down from $26
There’s wonderful generosity here, but it is in no way over the top. Ripe shiraz that still has its acid edge, with the white grape viognier addition (about 5 per cent) bringing some dried fruit and spice. Cool-climate shiraz’s blackberry flavours kick in at the back-palate. If you find Barossa shiraz too, well, too; and if you think Victorian shiraz can be a bit green, then this wine sits assuredly in between. Drinkable. Very drinkable.
Angullong Fossil Hill Sagrantino 2015, $22.10, down from $26
Sagrantino is a red grape variety from Umbria, but it is doing well in Australia in a number of regions. It has a very high natural tannin level – one of the highest in the wine grape world – and a healthy natural acid count. Yet the tannins are well-managed in this example – they’re not angular and clunky as they can be in that other tannic red variety, cabernet, or kaarh-ba-neigh as a posh South Australian friend pronounces it. Indeed this is rich, round red wine with a juicy, pert plushness. Oak bouquet and flavour is like the silent P in Psmith.
Angullong Fossil Hill Tempranillo 2014, $22.10, down from $26
Aromatics lead the way here: cloves and allspice, cherries and plums. There’s plenty of acidity making for a long and svelte palate. In many ways this red is like the old Rioja meeting the new world tempranillo. Ocker Rioja? (I do make myself laugh. Someone has to.) This is one of those savoury red wines that treats a whole range of foods in a gentlemanly way, not as a beast. A char-grilled autumn spatch-cocked quail?
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