Australia's white wine scene is a hotbed of quality, and very much on the up. The country's foremost wine communicator, Huon Hooke surveys new and established wineries, large and small, to name his top estates. As published in the Decanter July 2012 issue.
Bay of Fires
Bay of Fires
The ex-Hardy group is undergoing profound changes under the ownership of Accolade (which bought it from Constellation in 2011) but the calibre of the wines remains extraordinary. Houghton, under Ross Pamment, makes excellent Western Australian wines, Arras is Australia’s best sparkling brand, and Eileen Hardy is a great Tasmania-based Chardonnay. Tom Newton takes the major credit for the output of the group’s central winery at McLaren Vale, along with group chief winemaker Paul Lapsley. But the most multi-faceted jewel in the crown is the group’s Bay of Fires winery in Pipers River, Tasmania. First with Fran Austin and now Peter Dredge (pictured) as chief winemaker, Bay of Fires is plumbing the true essence of Tasmania, with terroir-driven whites of real panache – Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Gris. The Pinot Gris is head and shoulders over its competitors, and more Alsace-like than most, while the Riesling is off- dry and rich. The 2011 Sauvignon has already won a major show trophy (in Sydney) and the Chardonnay is only less exciting because its excellence is less uncommon.
Bay of Fires, Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Pungent capsicum, radish, nettle and herb nose. Intense and challenging for its piercing flavour, power and aromatic lift. Not subtle but deserves its rewards.18.5pts/20
Price: N/A UK www.bayoffireswines.com.au