Frankland Estate Syrah & Olmo’s garner more exceptional plaudits

20-odd years ago when CellarHand was little more than passionate idea, one of the first families to come on board were the Smith Cullam mob of Frankland Estate fame.  In those days the talk was all about the cool-climate reds from the Isolation Ridge vineyard. 

Given that their superb Riesling wines have hogged most of the limelight for many of the years since, it’s genuinely thrilling to see things come full circle.

“There are now three [Shiraz wines], the quality having risen to such a height that it’s now possible to field an AUD $120 reserve-style bottling under the SmithCullam label, wrote Huon Hooke in a recent article entitled “Frankland Estate’s Smashing Syrah”. “The first vintage was 2018, and the 2019 is just being released now. These are smashing wines.”

And, of course, it doesn’t stop there, with their famous Cabernet Franc-dominant cuvée from Isolation Ridge also continuing to make waves.

“”Olmo’s Reward, Frankland Estate’s blend of Bordeaux red varieties, has gradually risen to be an outstanding wine of its type,” as Huon Hooke says.
So it is, with these latest single-vineyard releases, that the reds are once again being seen for what they are: Some of the most terroir-reflective, elegant, sumptuous offerings grown in Australia.

2019 Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Syrah $45

The core of this wine is “Winery Block” (original clone sourced from the Justin Vineyard). The wine contains 4.5% Viognier and 2% Mourvèdre. Some 20% of the ferment was whole clusters (half of that sourced from “Winery Block”, the other half from the GDC – Geneva Double Curtain – block). 15 months’ maturation on lees in 3,500-litre foudre, is a culmination of much experimentation and experience over the past 30 years. The resulting wine is one of style and real integrity. The wine’s intent is to demonstrate our viticultural consideration without forcing any point; rather, reflecting the hands-off nature in which its crafted. – Hunter Smith, Frankland Estate

This turned out to be a stunning vintage in Frankland and here is ample proof of how good it was. Gorgeous aromas of perfumed satsuma plums and spices on the nose with a hint of dusty limestone. Then the palate delivers with profound and powerful, rich fruit presented with finesse and elegance. This is classically defined Syrah. Out-bloody-standing.

97 points. Ray Jordan, The West Australian

Bright, deep purple colour, with a fresh and spicy aroma of cool-grown shiraz, the fruit doing all of the talking. White pepper, blue fruits, violets, dried herbs. The wine is elegant but full-bodied, the tannins tightly coiled and supple, a gloriously aromatic, elegant cool-grown Shiraz.

95 points. Huon Hooke, The Real Review

2019 Frankland Estate SmithCullam Syrah $118

While the Isolation Ridge Vineyard wines are the benchmark of Frankland Estate, a new release of SmithCullam breaks new ground for the winery and is regarded as a culmination of our experience and confidence both viticulturally and in winemaking. A particularly exceptional portion of Syrah from among the best parcels of Isolation Ridge was identified and bottled under the SmithCullam label as a tribute to founders Barrie Smith and Judi Cullam.

For the most part (90%) this release is crafted from the original east-west facing “Winery Block” Syrah (92%) planted on Isolation Ridge in 1988. The row orientation gives shading throughout the day resulting in finesse to the fruit profile. This is enhanced by vine age, a small addition of Viognier (5%), and a drop of Mourvèdre (3%). There is an underlying power and authenticity that comes from this, certified-organic, 30-year-old site. A lightness of touch and juiciness of fruit is retained through the 15-month maturation in 3,500-litre foudre. Isolation Ridge Vineyard sits high in the landscape on rugged ironstone soil, providing a ferrous minerality that infiltrates the wines when handled tenderly. – Hunter Smith, Frankland Estate

This is a barrel selection from the Isolation Ridge wine and as a result it is made in small volumes. Super-concentrated Syrah with a mix of spices, tar and plummy berries. Brilliant colour and vitality. Seamless chalky tannins and a subtle use of large-format oak have contributed to such a smooth and velvety palate with just a hint of gravelly texture.

98 points. Ray Jordan, The West Australian

Deep, bright purple/red colour, the bouquet shows violets, cranberry and blueberry, with meaty spicy overtones, and a note of bunchy ‘forest floor’ adding extra interest. The wine is very intense, full-bodied but elegantly styled, with tremendous length and balance. Wow, this is impressive cool-climate shiraz: spicy but ripe and powerful in its relatively understated way.

97 points. Huon Hooke, The Real Review 

2018 Frankland Estate Olmo’s Reward $84

Olmo’s Reward 2018 reinforces that Frankland Estate is still doggedly setting its own path and style within the Frankland River region. Olmo’s Reward is the wine that has been historically – and still today – front and centre of this thoughtful and considered range of wines.  The varietal makeup of this single-vineyard wine shifts with each season, but it’s a story that has been led by Cabernet Franc for the past decade or more. This remains the intention for this wine in the future, too. The 2018 comprises Cabernet Franc, Merlot (clone 181, Bordeaux) and Malbec.

The style is the champion here. Olmo’s Reward is defined by elegant fruit, complex spices and a fine tannin profile, all of which come together each year to create a wine of personality that is true to the vineyard in which it was grown.

Each variety was fermented separately, as slowly as possible at temperatures not exceeding 27°C. Open fermentation tanks facilitated working the cap with gentle plunging, taking care to minimise tannin extraction. After fermentation, an extended maceration period allowed desired flavour and tannin resolution. The component wines were blended on completion of the malolactic fermentation and then aged in 500-litre French oak puncheons for 15 months.

Pretty smelling wine with redcurrant jelly, blackcurrant, flowers, sweet tobacco, cedar and spice. Medium-bodied, succulent yet savoury too, with firm chocolaty tannin, fresh and lively, a little bit of mint in here, but also the perfume of dried roses. Finish is long with a slick of slate-like tannin. Different. Expressive. And very lovely.

94+ points. Gary Walsh, The Wine Front 

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