Frankland’s next gen winners

An isolated vineyard in an isolated corner of WA, 330km south of Perth, Frankland Estate was born in 1988. Sheep farmers Barrie Smith and Judi Cullam planted vines in the “coffee rock” soil – ironstone gravel over a clay subsoil. And the vineyard’s name? Isolation Ridge, naturally.

Natural also because in 2009 Frankland Estate achieved organic certification. The result is healthy resilient vines, giving pristine fruit-making wines of greater balance, broader sensory spectrum and depth of flavour.

The estate is now run by brother and sister Hunter and Elizabeth Smith, with Elizabeth’s husband Brian Kent the winemaker since 2010. As is often the case, children standing on the shoulders of their parents are able to tweak and fine tune the vineyard and wines to a new level of sophistication. Such is the case at Frankland Estate, which has become famous for its rieslings, shiraz (syrah) and cabernet franc. Vinification is gentle and respectful with the aim of highlighting the fruit flavours of the vineyard. Favourite? I’m putting each of the Isolation Ridge wines down in my cellar, while the syrah is my top choice by a whisker.

2023 Frankland Estate Riesling

From an excellent vintage. Tank fermented. A full fruity generously flavoured Riesling, with characteristic floral and citrus lime in abundance. Hints of white peach and a pleasing crisp finish. Will do nicely as aperitif but also enhance grilled fish. (13% alcohol, $35)

2023 Isolation Ridge Riesling

From the original 1988 plantings grown at 256m above sea level. This is similar to the estate Riesling, but with more added aromatics – intense floral and citrus of great complexity. The practice of allowing this wine to rest on its lees for nine months makes for beautiful integration of acidity and phenolics, giving the wine its ‘yumminess’, impressive minerality and length of flavour. A world class wine. Delicious now but will mature and develop for 10 years plus. (13%, $55)

2021 Frankland Estate Shiraz

A fraction of Viognier, Marsanne and Touriga make for a nuanced shiraz style. The bouquet of spice and pepper so typical of cooler climate shiraz fleshed out with red berry and earthy tannins. A wine of balance that the Great Southern does so well. (14.5%, $35)

2022 Isolation Ridge Syrah

Syrah is used to denote a style of shiraz that pays homage to the elegant examples from the Rhone Valley. It is fully justified here. Viognier 1.5% and mourvedre 3.5% add aromatics and complexity to a bouquet of spice, licorice, cherries, violets and plum. Again like the riesling, a world class wine and worth every penny. Coincidentally, I recently shared a bottle of the 2018 version with friends and it was just as delicious and youthful. (14%, $55)

2021 Olmo’s Reward

Named in honour of Harold Olmo, the US-born viticulturalist who in 1955 declared that Frankland was at least the equal of any place in Australia or California when it came to the potential for Bordeaux-beating cabernet blends. The blend here is surprisingly cabernet franc dominant – 90%, cabernet sauvignon 8%, malbec 2%. A blend commonly seen on the right bank of Bordeaux around St Emilion. A nose of complexity. Cedar, subdued fruits, violets. A lovely gentle fruity and savoury palate which caresses and fills the mouth and lingers in its aftertaste. Not a trace of harshness. A worthwhile alternative to the cabernet sauvignon wines that we are usually exposed to. (14.5%, $90)


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