Sunday, 27 November 2011

Not Drinking Wine? So Talk About It. Cygne Blanc...

Benson Rise Cygne Blanc 2007 Limestone Coast, South Australia.

I find myself having a non drinking evening, rather silly if you ask me, so what to do but think about a good drop.  Here's an opportunity I thought to delve into my tasting archive and put one of those rather silly notes to some use! 

Cygne Blanc is an interesting and rare variety I came across and was intrigued to taste. The grape has it's origins in the Swan Valley area of Western Australia and would appear to be a white mutation of Cabernet Sauvignon, a chance discovery in the garden of a vigneron at that. Propagation began from this single seedling and test batches and small scale production have followed from that point. To date the variety perhaps hasn't risen to the level that was hyped by some, but on the basis of this wine I feel further experimentation is worth the effort, as you will see by my ramblings below. I should also note I tasted the wine properly after it had been open a day, on opening I would say the wine was tighter, but there was some volatility. It was all more settled the next day.

Approaching 5 years old, the wine has a very youthful pale lemon hue. Nose has lemon citrus, stone fruit, lanolin and a hint of spicyness (spice may have faded somewhat over 24hrs) with a touch of flint. On the palate the texture jumps out at you, with a full, mouth filling but soft quality, my note said (“interesting!”) the lanolin quality comes through but there is also fruity sweetness with peach and melon. A savoury quality, underlines and counterpoints these features in the form of a grassy herbal note. This savoury quality is bolstered by pleasing acidity and lingers on the palate. A split personality was the thought I had of the wine as a whole, but in rather a good way. 87?

So a few wild stabs and questions! It feels a bit like a weird blend of Semillon/Chardonnay/Viogner (or something... Vermentino)? My questions were: Could it take some oak and would it be better a little leaner with a bit more acidity? To this end there would be pros and cons. In the rather sprawling world of wine it's always good to have something different and new, but only if it genuinely contributes something worthwhile or compelling to what is an already overflowing market. Another angle that might add to arguments for and against this variety is how it fairs in the shifting growing conditions we are experiencing due to climate change and water availability. I'm not sure if it shares the late ripening characteristics of Cabernet, but this would surely be an asset if it were the case. On having a glass of this as a drink, the lingering savoury quality is what struck me most. I felt like I'd been eating some tasty antipasto or the like. Perhaps similarly to Vermentino, this would be great with food, and versatile. If you get a chance to try some, see what you think.

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