Wine Reviews: Crittenden Estate, Dexter and Brash Higgins


Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

RRP $35.00

A wine fermented on skins isn’t anything new, but the team at Crittenden Estate took it upon themselves to create a label called Oggi (‘today’ in Italian), which allows them to show their customers what they experimented with during a particular vintage in the winery. For 2012, it is a blend of alternative white grape varieties grown in the Mornington Peninsula. These include Friulano, Savagnin and Arneis.

This is one of the more kooky wines I have tasted in some time. The nose is quite uncommon with aromas of guava, milk thistle and a hint of burnt sugar. The palate continues the eccentric ride with an overriding peppery character, medium acidity and a very dry and chalky finish. The most obvious feature about Oggi is that it lacks fruit and is instead more vegetal and spicy. Oggi is certainly a wine for the adventurous drinker. Try this unconventional blend with random dishes like a juicy burrito, salted calamari or even some fishy Spanish tapas.

Stockist: Blackhearts & Sparrows, all locations.

DEXTER Chardonnay 2012

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

RRP $40.00

Only a few weeks ago I received an email from Tod Dexter requesting the chance to review his latest 2012 Chardonnay. At the same time he had also put the feelers out to established writers and professionals for the opportunity to give his ego a boost or a battering. What a brave man!

Fortunately for Mr Dexter and Gram readers, I only have positive comments to add. The best and most telling attributes of this wine came from the palate. It was the decent amount of graphitey and spiced almond oak that first caught my eye followed by a touch of minerals and butter. Despite the mouth coating buttery-ness, the palate is not overtly rich. It is downplayed by the lean fruit characters, clean acidity and almond meal phenolic finish and ultimately displays great balance between fruit and wood. An ideal match for the Dexter Chardonnay would be a juicy Tandoori chicken thigh with a splash of mint yoghurt on the side.

Stockists: Armadale Cellars, Armadale and Cloudwine Cellars, South Melbourne

BRASH HIGGINS Nero d’Avola 2013

McLaren Vale, South Australia

RRP $45.00

Welcome to Brash Higgin’s world, where making a wine that stays on its skins in beeswaxed-lined amphorae for 180 days using the southern Italian black grape Nero d’Avola is not an uncommon occurrence.

This wine is an unusual bird, displaying complex aromas of bramble, kola nut, raspberries, cherries and a very distinct note of dried apricot. The last time I came across this particular perfume was when I fermented some Tempranilllo on its skins for a good few months at Henschke winery. Ah, the memories. The Nero d’Avola fruit seems to enjoy its new home in the McLaren Vale soil, displaying healthy, ripe cherry fruit characters with elements of liquorice and lavender on the furry tannic finish.

I would love to see this wine in another year or so after a bit more time mellowing in the bottle. In the meantime, while this is not your typical tasting wine, I imagine that the people who would buy this would not be looking for a cookie-cutter product. So everyone’s happy. Try it with lamb kofta or a similarly spiced/herbed piece of meat.

Stockists: St Crispin and The Town Mouse are pouring it, otherwise available at Banks Fine Wine and Carwyn Cellars.

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