Latest Release of Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Single Vineyard

This year’s single-vineyard release from the Frankland Estate clan is tinged with touch of sadness as it’s the first since Barrie Smith’s passing late last year. But I tell you what, he would be proud of these releases AND the way that the Smith-Cullam clan continue to tell their story and live out his dreams through the wines! The release has been beautifully summed up by the winery here – all that’s left to do for the rest if us is to sit back and enjoy as many bottles of these as we can get out hands on. I know I’ll be doing just that for the cellar at home. – Patrick Walsh, CellarHand April 2023 

Bearing honour to its name, Isolation Ridge is one of Australia’s most remote vineyards; a site tucked-away, in one of the country’s most isolated and sparsely populated wine regions.  It has been lovingly farmed for more than 30 years with a combined family experience of over 120 vintages.  The distinctive aroma, flavour profile and underlying structure is an unmistakable hallmark of the Smith-Cullam family’s special patch of dirt. 

This kind of viticultural intimacy, required to make truly great wine, is the sort that can be seen in our team at Frankland Estate,” says Hunter Smith.  ”Our daily routines in the vineyard and winery show great thoughtfulness and minute attention to detail. This level of fine tuning and knowledge only comes from living and breathing the vineyard life we live…Riesling and Syrah have been a particular focus, and the results speak for themselves. Our crusade for the last eight-odd years – and especially since our 2015 release – has been Riesling ripeness levels that give optimal texture and flavour. We continue to modestly push ahead with this, in step with what  

Isolation Ridge allows us. With Syrah, the combination of vine age with natural balance of soil, vine and wine allows the ferrous nature of Isolation Ridge to come more to the fore. We’re also thinking beyond straight Syrah to reveal how new clones, plus the region’s oldest planting of Mourvèdre, elevate this wine.”Hunter Smith, Frankland Estate  

The Wines 

2022 Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Riesling RRP $54
A very wet winter gave us good soil moisture as we headed into a dry start to summer. We had no rain between mid-November and mid-January, when we got a good dose to freshen the vines. The weather cooled off significantly afterwards, allowing for plenty of calm hangtime that resulted in hallmark line and intensity in a relatively delicate year. As is now tradition, we left the wine on lees for nine months as we enjoy the texture and personality this imparts. It highlights the subtle yet distinct flinty ironstone notes, which are wrapped up in the mouthfeel of the wine. We pick the grapes slightly riper than we used to 10 or so years go. This allows us to achieve the “resolved” acid profile where it melts into the wine. Complex and fine from the off, with pretty, lifted florals, lime, mandarin sorbet, white nectarine, pure and almost ethereal, this has excellent length. – Hunter Smith, Frankland Estate 

2021 Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Syrah RRP $54
2021 was really positive for Syrah. Everything looked good, the crop was a healthy size, and everything ripened beautifully. We picked in April, pretty late, but the fruit was aromatically charged with lots of spice and pepper. This wine is 94% Syrah with 4% Viognier and 2% Mourvèdre. 20% whole bunches are included, carefully sourced from among two blocks where the stems turn yellow early. The perfume from these leaps out of the glass and the tannins give a sense of width, with gentle chewiness. 45% of the blend is from the 1988-planted winery block. 49% is 470 clone which brings more complexity and another dimension to the tannin profile. The 470 also reaches perfect ripeness at slightly lower sugar levels, which serves the restrained balance of this wine. Mourvèdre and Viognier add complexity of flavour and texture while Syrah remains the hero.  – Hunter Smith, Frankland Estate 

2021 Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Mourvèdre RRP $54
Mourvèdre was first planted on the Isolation Ridge Vineyard in 2005. From 2014 it has been released irregularly as a varietal wine under our “small batch” label in the manner of Grüner Veltliner or Touriga Nacional.  With the maturity of the vines – together with our deepening understanding of the grape and the wine it wanted to be – we’re thrilled to announce its ascendancy to the Isolation Ridge range. It is also a key component in Isolation Ridge Syrah, SmithCullam Syrah and – for the first time in the 2020 vintage – Olmo’s Reward. The grapes were destemmed and fermented in small, open pots. The wine was pressed reasonably quickly after primary ferment to keep the tannins in check, then matured in puncheons for 14 months. We love this wine’s savoury aspect and the way it highlights the elegance with power that comes from Isolation Ridge. With vine age, the signature ferrous notes are clearly written. This wine has an exciting future.  – Hunter Smith, Frankland Estate