There are many reasons why Australia could be the land of field blends (wines made from several different grape varieties coming from the same vineyard which were harvested at the same time and cofermented together). Unlike in Europe there are no appellation rules dictating what and how different grape varieties can be blended plus not many wine regions have a strong varietal tradition (imagine red field blend from Burgundy…). Moreover, there are emerging wine regions in Australia where new vineyards are very often planted with several different varieties to find out what grapes will work best in the particular terroir providing optimal conditions for making field blends.
On the other hand it could be a tricky marketing category as Australian consumers have always been encouraged to choose their wines by variety and the only acceptable blends have been Shiraz-Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon (which, of course, aren´t field blends… and indeed acceptable only in Australia and Bordeaux …). Luckily, there is younger generation´s demand for weird and weirder that is opening doors for wines such are field blends. With a bit of imagination, it could also be interesting export topic as poor old world wine lovers have to rely only on Chateauneuf du Pape and less known but also ingenious Austrian Gemischtersatz.
Five white field blends tasted blind
Domaine Simha Simla Blanc Field Blend 2016, Tasmania, RRP $40
Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Blanc. Sauvignon and Pinot Blanc dominate on the nose with some grass and gooseberries, array of stone fruits and bit of lemon from Riesling – all of that after half an hour of swirling to get rid of reductive cauliflower like aromas. Hazy and funky. The nose but mainly the palate screams FRESHNESS – zesty, sour and almost austere with great drive and long finish. Flavours are dominated by Sauv Blanc – gooseberries and elderflower but there is more: green apple, just ripe citruses and bit of peach. Extremely quaffable, not too complicated but not dull at all – pure summer joy with luxurious Simha price tag
Hentley Farm Poppy White Field Blend 2016, Barossa Valley, RRP $22
Sweet, weighty and rich nose with quince, ripe apples and ripe peaches. Weirdest blend of the line up: Chardonnay, Riesling, Viognier, White Frontignac (oh dear lord…), Fiano, Pinot Gris. There is some skin contact providing structure and slight phenolic touch in the finish. This warm climate blend is made from couple of natural heavy weights so the mouthfeel is not surprisingly ripe and rich but by no means lazy which is the greatest aspect of this wine – ripe flavours of yellow apples, apricots and bit of caramel from oak are held by solid structure and drive to provide reasonably energetic and appealing finish. Food friendly and very fairly priced.
Sinapius Clem Blanc Field Blend 2016, Tasmania, RRP $38
Gewurztraminer is not a good blender – please write one hundred times. This blend based on Riesling (50%) with Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc has only 2% of Gewurztraminer and yet this superaromatic grape took over the aromas – lychee, pear, touch of grass, honey. Rich on the palate with intensive flavours of lychee, ripe peaches, nectarines, white pepper, pineapple and bit of honey. The wine spent some time in oak and has lovely texture and thanks to its cool climate origin also nice racy acidity. It is indeed a very nice wine but I can´t get rid if a feeling that some of the flavours are bit fighting with each other rather than harmonically flowing on one smooth wave.
Massena Fruit Salad Field Blend 2017, Barossa Valley, RRP $26
Grapes come from vineyard which was purposely planted as a fieldblend more than one hundred and fifty years ago for brandy production. Youthful and slightly weird on the nose as the aroma composition doesn’t give much of a clue what was actually planted in that old vineyard – perhaps nobody knows – lots of ripe peaches, ripe citruses, touch of grass, green pepper and hint of basil. This is an easy drinker, highly acidic and light bodied wine: passion fruit, citruses, lemon, orange, grapefruit, pineapple and hint of grass. Bit of bitterness cuts the finish bit earlier than I would like to.
Larry Cherubino Laissez Faire Field Blend 2016, Pemberton, RRP $29
Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc and Sauvignon Gris – blend of varieties that are naturally lower in acid desperately asks for more freshness and drive. Impressively rich on the nose with Gewurz leading the gang: quince, lychee, pears, apricots and honey. Rich and round on the palate with some nice texture, flavours again dominated by Gewurz – lychee, grapefruit, rose water, apricots, peach soap and grass. Very good company to some spicy seafood but by itself it´s bit hard to go for another glass.