A bright and lively wine with fresh passionfruit, banana and paw paw aromas. Tropical notes continue through to compliment lime zest flavours on the palate. The crisp structure and clean finish are trademarks of Windowrie's Mill Verdelho.
Verdelho is one of Australia's niche white wine varieties. Its flavoursome palate and full-bodied nature makes it a good alternative to the market-dominant Chardonnay. Although usually sold as a straight varietal, it also blends well with Chardonnay and Semillon.
Verdelho is native to Portugal. Although grown on the mainland, it is most recognised for its vinification into fortified wine on the island of Madeira, producing a medium-dry style with high acidity, high alcohol and a citrus tang. This is how the world knew Verdelho, until Australia adopted the variety and produced a unique style of table wine.
The first Australian plantings of Verdelho were thought to have been in Camden, southwest of Sydney. In recent times, the warm areas of Western Australia, Langhorne Creek and the Hunter Valley have all had success with Verdelho. However due to the wide variations in climate between these areas, very different styles of wine are produced.
Verdelho from Western Australia is fresh and fruity, sometimes with a honeysuckle vein. From Langhorne Creek, it has a soft and flavoursome palate with tropical flavours such as pineapple and guava. And from the Hunter Valley, the variety expresses a spiciness, both on the nose and the palate. In general, if the variety is picked early, it will exhibit citrus and herbaceous elements. If it is picked late, rich fruit flavours will be dominant.
The production of Verdelho varies from winery to winery. Some producers use barrel fermentation and/or ageing to add creaminess and structure to the palate whilst others prefer a more fruit-driven style. Some styles are slightly sweet, adding to the generosity of flavour and balancing the inherent acidity. In all styles, care must be taken to avoid an alcohol 'hotness' and a phenolic coarseness, which can sometimes occur when the variety is allowed to get very ripe.
Most Australian Verdelhos are best consumed within two years of vintage. Some styles improve with short-term bottle age however this is winery specific rather than the norm. Perhaps the best thing about Verdelho is that it is reasonably priced, with most selling for $10 to $20 per bottle.
Foods to partner Verdelho include seafood and light meats such as chicken, pork and veal. The spicy styles go well with pesto and roasted vegetables whereas the sweeter styles work well with Asian influenced dishes.
So if you are looking for a flavoursome, everyday drinking wine
that goes well with food, look no further than Verdelho.
2003 Elysium Verdelho
The vigneron at Elysium Vineyard in the Hunter Valley has every right to be proud of her new vintage Verdelho. It is a fresh and vibrant wine, with none of the dreaded coarseness or alcoholic hotness that can so often spoil this variety. The nose, with its tones of lemon zest and fresh apple, is inviting. And the palate, which is both structured and balanced, tastes of fresh fruit salad. There is a hint of grassiness, which improves rather than detracts from the wine and the finish is crisp and clean. A classy partner to a long, lazy lunch, though perfectly delightful served alone.
News flash: Elysium 1999 has
just been awarded a Gold Medal at the 2003 Hunter Valley Wine Show,
only the second verdelho ever to score gold. It was half-a-point
off winning the trophy for Best White Wine of Show, which went to
Tyrrells 1997 Semillon. The 1999 had previously won four bronzes
in successive years.
© Toni Paterson 2003