“There was no cloud now; the heat was easing, but at every stop the merciless obbligato of the cicadas, rising clamorously as the sunset drew down, made the sudden human voices in that still seem false and unreal…”
I am a born and bred Sydney boy and, alas, have had little occasion to venture to Western Australia. My mother is a Perth girl, who never speaks of the place unless asked. I like to ask her of her early life. The life before kids, before dad and before the massive shift. The shift to Sydney, via London and Brisbane. Her memory is full and the warmth of her words, the brightness of her tone and the fire in her eyes leaves me in no doubt that Western Australia is a beautiful place. From special places radiate beautiful creations. Her two brothers, one older the other younger, along with their families have never left.
Swinney Wines – expressions of place
“That February was a hot month, hotter even than an Australian February might be expected to be… On the flats the grass was changed from gold to a bleached grey in the weeks of merciless sun… Sunlight was broken up like glass by the polished dry threads of stem and leaf; the grass fell flat, more than dead, and only patches of water-couch, defying the blinding heat, showed dully green…”
Swinney is from Western Australia, Frankland River to be precise, and until a few months ago, I had never heard of them. Truth be told, I read of them in Gourmet Wine Traveller, and was intrigued.
When most of us think of Western Australian wines, our thoughts dart to the Margaret River. Its natural I suppose, but the Swinney property has been established in the Frankland River region since 1922. Most of the grapes are sold, but with 220 hectares to choose from, they aren’t short of choice about what to keep. And they make a great choice, thank goodness, for the wines I tasted sent ripples of excitement through me. It wasn’t so much the gloriousness of their wine, though glorious it is, rather that a fabulous new producer has stuck it’s head above the parapet. Swinney has used almost a century of experience and wisdom to craft wines that are fantastic expressions of the Western Australian landscape.
And so the glory of these wines has been etched by the uniqueness of the landscape itself. The Swinney wines are full, intense, concentrated, expressive and bracing. They are savage wines. Inspired, primal and merciless in their delivery. There is no dancing lightly on the palate. Their challenge to the drinker is their vinous truth and they wear their Western Australian roots as a monarch wears their crown. We have another Frankland River producer, the wonderful Frankland Estate. Tasting the Swinney wines, I was also reminded vividly of these. Must be something about the place……
* Quotes are taken from The Young Desire It by Kenneth Mackenzie, first published 1937.
The Swinney Wines – Tasting Notes
Swinney Riesling 2019 – Baroque Riesling is something I associate with Germany, but the Swinney Riesling has a haunting grandeur that is magnificent. Exotic flavours, there’s more than lemon and lime here. Blood orange, grapefruit and white flowers explode from the glass. Succulent and juicy palate, racy energy. Honeysuckle, spiced pear, and a twisted fist of grip. Salty finish, nervy acidity and mineral talc. Incredible wine. Next level.
Swinney Grenache 2018 – It’s nice to taste an Australian Grenache that isn’t full of strawberry sweetness or made as if it’s a Pinot. Dark, very dark. Forget brooding, this is all sculpted muscle and intense power. Full bodied and open to drink, but has incredible presence. Very complex array of black, blue and bramble fruits. Bitumen, garrigue, marrowbone and tobacco. Gripped by sinewed tannins that hold and hold.
Swinney Syrah 2018 – Black colour so intense it almost hurts the eyes. There is a dark soul to this wine, with a sweet dark core of fruit that has decades left to tell. Blackcurrant, blueberry and bramble fruit, and again, garrigue. Full bodied and an alluring combination of milk chocolate and bitter. This wine, as with the others, is about strength and expression. Thoroughbred.