With each passing year the release of the single-vineyard Rieslings from this domain in far-flung Great Southern is greeted by greater and more widespread excitement and respect. These new wines are sure to continue that trend.
But this isn’t simply business as usual; it is a momentous occasion for the estate.
For the past six years, second-generation winemaker Hunter Smith has been joined in the winery by brother-in-law Brian Kent. They’ve determinedly set about building on the tremendous progress made since Judi Cullam and Barrie Smith planted the first vines on Isolation Ridge almost 30 years ago. Hunter and Brian have focused on every detail of their technique, produce and – most important – organically farmed vineyard, with the ultimate aim of realising Frankland Estate’s immense potential.
Now we see how that hard work has eased into being a suite of brilliant wines. The reds, long recognised as wines of pedigree with a strong sense of place, now occupy a higher plane. They shine a light on the pristine Isolation Ridge vineyard’s potential to grow mineral, nuanced wines with remarkable vitality. The Chardonnay – a sleeper in the range – is beautifully composed, and the Rieslings have earned their place in the pantheon of great Australian wines.
Taste them and you know it immediately. Run an eye over the latest reviews, and they too confirm that something big is happening here:
“Wow! These ’13 reds from Frankland Estate are bloody delicious!” Max Allen
“The Frankland Estate reds are in excellent shape; perhaps the best shape I’ve seen them in.” Campbell Mattinson
“I can’t recall a better Shiraz from this vineyard.” Huon Hooke
“Riesling might feel like their métier, but there’s fire in the belly for red wines under their care.” Mike Bennie
“Terrific reds and this very good Chardonnay are part of the stable.” Jane Faulkner
“(Isolation Ridge Riesling) has now become so consistently great, it is a liquid tribute to the dedication of the Cullam family, to their vineyard and winemaking.” Nick Stock
“The (Poison Hill Riesling) surges on and on, with a mix of mineral, citrus and green apple.” James Halliday
One of Australia’s foremost terroir-driven winegrowers is scaling new heights. Frankland Estate is flying.
REFINING THE RANGE
The Frankland Estate wines have been realigned into three tiers, in recognition of the best fruit sources and most compelling styles for each variety or blend.
ESTATE – RRP $28
MOURVÈDRE* (*Occasional release)
SINGLE VINEYARD – RRP $41
ISOLATION RIDGE RIESLING
POISON HILL RIESLING
ISOLATION RIDGE SHIRAZ
SMITH CULLAM RIESLING
SMITH CULLAM SHIRAZ
2015 Frankland Estate Poison Hill Riesling RRP $41
Grapes were whole bunch pressed immediately on arrival at the winery, with the juice left to settle in tank overnight before being racked to fermentation vessel. The wine was then fermented in tank at low temperatures (less than 15°C) over 12 weeks with minimal intervention.
“Buckle in for the perfume. Gushing out of the glass with floral scents, rose water, ripe citrus, steel and slate, sweet appley notes. Riotous. Succulent, clean, long in flavour, bristling with fine acidity but undoubtedly yummy with gentle sweetness and that comely, slippery texture. Finishes with a little chalkiness and steely zing. Simply super. 95 points.” Mike Bennie, The Wine Front
2015 Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Riesling RRP $41
Grapes were pressed immediately on arrival at the winery with the juice left to settle in tank overnight before being racked to fermentation vessel. The wine was then fermented in tanks and a small portion in (neutral) oak at low temperatures (less than 15°C) over 8 weeks with minimal intervention. The wine was then left on its lees for six months prior to bottling in October.
“Steel, pot pourri, citrus peel, citrus juice scents and a dash of savoury spice. Glorious acidity feels like a light line of citrussy tang in pools of succulent, appley fruit. Overall, the wine is trim and taut in the palate but feels like it softens and becomes supple through the finish. Amazing texture really, inviting, yet structured. This really drives home the prestige of this wine. 94+ points.” Mike Bennie, The Wine Front
2015 Frankland Estate Smith Cullam Riesling RRP $52
Fruit for this wine was sourced from Geisenheim clone Riesling vines planted in 1988 on the Isolation Ridge vineyard. The grapes were picked by hand when ripe in the early morning. Whole-bunch pressed for fermentation in 1000-litre French oak foudre over 4 weeks. Towards the end of fermentation, when the ideal balance of sugar, fruit weight and acidity had been achieved, the wine was chilled to arrest fermentation. The 19 grams per litre of residual sugar is counterbalanced by the refreshing varietal acidity of the Geisenheim clone.
OTHER CURRENT RELEASE WINES
2015 Frankland Estate Riesling RRP $28
It has quite a bit of texture with its chalky mouthfeel, and also a fair amount of bathroom perfume and spicy peppery flavours. Lime, mouth perfume, slightly jagged, but shapely acidity, and a cranking savoury quinine laced finish. It has plenty of character. 91 points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front
2013 Frankland Estate Chardonnay RRP $28
This is very good wine. So stylish and well composed. No excess and no shortages. Light funk of struck match, grapefruit and nectarine, kiss of cedar and spice. Fine and pure in the mouth, clean fruit and savoury flavours, gentle flinty texture and a long clean juicy grapefruit finish. Delicious. 93 points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front
2014 Frankland Estate Mourvèdre RRP $28
Far out this is good drinking. Immediately gluggable with its fresh ‘n’ fruity appeal, chomp-chomp of dusty tannin, vibrant berry fruit-meets-savoury-spice vibe. It’s a very fragrant wine, smelling like mulberries, spicy sausages, cloves, wet earth. It feels a bit sweet, juicy, just medium weight, finely tuned with that peppery tannin profile and finishes with a refreshing lick of saline acidity. It’s a guzzler. Chill wouldn’t hurt either. Get heaps! 92 points. Mike Bennie, The Wine Front
2013 Frankland Estate Cabernet Sauvignon RRP $28
Yes. This is a wine to buy and drink. The price is more than reasonable, given the quality. It tastes of blackcurrant, lead pencil, tobacco and dark chocolate, the flavours flowing purposefully through to a fine, intricate finish. Medium-bodied in the best possible way. For now or later; it just works. 95 points. Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front
2013 Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Shiraz RRP $41
This is Syrah-like; spicy and medium-bodied, elegant and beautifully poised. I can’t recall a better Shiraz from this vineyard. It’s a modern iteration of Aussie Shiraz, classy and stylish, fine and long on the palate. 94 points. Huon Hooke, Gourmet Traveller WINE
2013 Frankland Estate Olmo’s Reward RRP $52
Single vineyard blend of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon. The Frankland Estate reds are in excellent shape; perhaps the best shape I’ve seen them in. This wine is looking the goods too. Grassy, herb and nut-like notes are washed through with cherry-plum and musk. Complex and come-hither at once. Flying. 94 points. Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front