2005 Ballandean Estate Wines Late Harvest Sylvaner

The term 'liquid gold' is bandied about these days to describe anything from oil to beer to breast milk and is a reference invariably to a liquid's exceptional quality and perhaps to its outstanding colour. The 2005 Late Harvest Sylvaner from the Ballandean Estate winery in Queensland's Granite Belt Region, ticks both boxes. 

The winery has had a pivotal role in helping pioneer the region's and indeed Queensland's wine industry since the late 1960's. The quality of their range of wines is unquestioned with the rare, multiple award-winning Late Harvest Sylvaner the specialty wine. It is documented as Australia's original cordon-cut style that has been produced by the Puglisi family on an infrequent basis for over twenty five years and according to public demand. Acclaimed UK Wine Journalist and author of The Wines Of Alsace (1993) Tom Stevenson, has described it as "the best Sylvaner I have ever tasted, the best of its style in the world". 

Sylvaner is not something that comes up in the same breath as Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc would for instance, perceived rather as producing less than compelling wines by those in the know. An ugly duckling sort of variety with high acid levels that is made for early consumption, it seems to have fallen victim to increased plantings of more mainstream varieties such as Riesling and Pinot Gris in Alsace, France for example where it used to have a strong foothold. 

A cross between Traminer and the now rarely cultivated Hunnic variety Austrian Wine, its origins are unclear but thought to be either Austria itself or Transylvania in modern day Romania as evidenced by its name. It seems that wines were cultivated in Count Dracula's backyard since the 7th century BC and today the region is viewed as a nirvana for white varietals. With the expansion of empires and the migration of people, the grape spread throughout Europe notably Alsace, Luxembourg, north-east Italy, Germany and as far as Russia. 

A few Australian wineries in cooler regions continue to grow Sylvaner but Ballandean Estate has made their version into an 'elegant swan'. Golden in colour with greenish tinges, the wine has in the best sense of the word, intoxicating aromas of potpourri, glazed apricot and orange peel. Some oak. The palate offers up a viscous body of lime and melon marmalade with secondary flavours of quince and pineapple, the whole beautifully balanced by the grape's natural acidity. A crisp, spicy aftertaste with some sweet nuances. Fresh fruit or a cheese platter would accompany this class act really well. Lusciousness in a 375 ml bottle.

Source: Winery Sample. Alcohol: 9.0%. Closure: Cork ! Rating: 91 Points.
Website: http://www.ballandeanestate.com/Default.aspx

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