Basalt? Bring it on!

Located next to the A1 (Princes Highway) in Killarney, just before Port Fairy, this little gem of a cellar door seems to have been under-rated by a few professional wine writers (either that or our tastes are just too different…). There is a lot of variety here for a boutique winery and a lot of good value to be found, so stop in for a taste (it is easier when heading West).

2018 Riesling: This is a less fruit-driven and more mineral style Riesling and to this end it achieves its aim. The depth of colour is excellent and the bouquet supports this view with clean, but light fragrances which are not immediately recognisable as typical Riesling, mostly because of the dryer style. The length of flavour on the palate is excellent, albeit with the fruit playing a background role. The finish is well balanced, but again the minerality dominates. $29 per bottle.

2017 Pinot Gris: Although this variety has been around for a long time, the appearance at more and more cellar doors over the last decade suggests many producers believe (rightly or wrongly) that Pinot Gris is going to be the next big thing in white wines. In many of the cellar doors the walkabout team has had the pleasure of visiting, Pinot Gris has been on taste, yet in the majority of cases, the variety seems to be still struggling through an adolescent identity challenge, not quite knowing how to best express itself. The Basalt 2017 Pinot Gris is another example of this challenge, with the nose on this wine being quite a bit more on the Chardonnay end of the spectrum rather than the Sauvignon Blanc end where many other Pinot Gris wines find themselves. For this reason, the depth of colour is excellent and the floral aromas are well rounded but the green apple or Nashi pear scents that are typical of some Pinot Gris wines are a bit harder to locate. The amount of fruit in the palate is pleasing and well layered, making for an interesting and moderately complex wine. $29 per bottle.

2016 Chardonnay: OUR PICK FOR BEST WHITE. The 6 or more months spent in French oak has brought out the varietal characteristics in the nose of this wine very well. A bit soft perhaps, but very recognisable as a Chardonnay from the first whiff. The fruit in this Chardonnay is pleasingly full, resisting the over-use of oak flavours but still present enough to round out the palate nicely. The amount of acid in the finish may not be ideal for some Chardonnay drinkers, but hopefully with some time in the cellar this too will calm down. $29 per bottle.

2017 Pinot Noir: OUR PICK FOR BEST RED. The colour is typical Pinot Noir – deep red with some earthy brown tones and the nose supports this with all the typical Pinot Noir scents of red fruits and earthy tones; being instantly recognisable as a Pinot Noir is one of the signs we look for as an indicator of quality and this wine delivered! The palate is also a lovely illustration of just what this wine can be if crafted skilfully (Pinot Noir is notoriously difficult to get right for a number of reasons and there are more examples of not quite so good wines of this variety than there are vintages where it has all come together perfectly). There is some dryness in the palate and the finish but the overwhelming red fruit flavours and length of the palate and aftertaste make this a truly excellent, top class wine. $38 per bottle.

2016 Temperanillo: For those familiar with this Spanish style of red wine, this particular example gives credence to the choice to grow these grapes in this region, with the medium-red colour and cherry floral notes forming very nicely. For some reason, possibly the vintage, the bouquet has drifted a lot more to the Shiraz end of the spectrum in this case, making the wine appear bolder than it is meant to be. The palate is dry to begin with before the fruit comes through multiple times before a dry finish. $42 per bottle.

2017 Shiraz: The grapes are grown nearby in the Grampians region, inland from the Basalt cellar door. The colour of this wine is DEEP, with the red colours dominant but the black shades providing a powerful assisting role. Even for a cool climate Shiraz, the nose is very light and herbaceous suggesting the intent here is to imitate some of the French Rhone style Syrah wines; the result however is a wine that lacks power, has flavours more akin to a Malbec (sharp and green) and has a round palate that is not given the opportunity to show its full glory due to the overall softness of the flavours. Some sour cherry flavours present as the wine subsides. $27 per bottle.

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