As far as our imposed isolation goes, one has to think that the Frankland Estate winery in southern West Australia is in pole position. There are very few wineries so isolated. Frankland Estate is, not surprisingly, located in the Frankland River region (on Frankland Road), which is almost literally in the middle of nowhere, some 250 kilometres east of Margaret River. Distant as it might be, this is a terrific place to visit, when the world permits.
The Smith/Cullam family established the estate in 1988 and son, Hunter, is today’s custodian. Organic certification was granted in 2009.
They are perhaps best known for scintillating Rieslings, but there are some very fine reds – they use the term Syrah rather than more Aussie Shiraz believing it to more accurately reflect the style they make – in the stable as well, and for me, one of their latest releases is perhaps the finest they have made – certainly, the finest I have seen. The current reds are from the excellent 2018 vintage.
But first, what better wine to enjoy during isolation than the Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge single vineyard wines.
Frankland Ridge ‘Isolation Ridge Vineyard’ Syrah 2018 ($45) – The vineyard has three clones of Syrah across seven small plots. The wine includes a dollop of Viognier (4%) and 7% whole bunch. It spent 15 months on lees in a 3,500 litre foudre.
Lovely lifted aromas, does have that floral and stonefruit touch. Also, chocolate and blackberries, spices, dry herbs. A delicious style of mid-length. If one had a criticism, it would be that the intensity does fade a little on the finish, but the positives far outweigh any detractions. Fine, slightly minerally tannins, this is a wine with a future and that time may rectify any perceived shortcomings. 91.
Frankland Estate ‘SmithCullam’ Syrah 2018 ($120) – For me, this is the best red I have seen from Frankland Estate. It is an absolute cracking wine. As good as the ‘Isolation Ridge’ Syrah is, this is a step up, as one would expect given the price differential. It is sourced from the finest parcels from the Isolation Ridge Vineyard. There is the addition of 5% of Viognier and 1% Mourvedre. Whereas one can spot the inclusion of Viognier in the IR Syrah, here it is completely absorbed into the wine. Again, fifteen months in a 3,500 litre foudre.
Notes of mulberries, plums, dark berries, florals and tobacco leaf. Complex and supple. This is so wonderfully silky, with tannins like cashmere. Oak is perfectly melded into the wine. Impressive length and here the intensity is maintained throughout. A glorious red. 96.