New producer, new names, brilliant new labels, and stunning new wines. Got to say, I’m just a little bit excited. Nikola Estate winemaker Damian Hutton called me about three new releases that he thought I’d be interested in. Not something I haven’t heard before, but when he told me the varieties and the styles, I just had to head up to Nikola Estate’s home in the Swan Valley and grab them for a tasting.
The wines are clearly designed to differentiate themselves from the rest of the Nikola ranges, based on alternative, and largely underplanted varieties relatively new to Australia, but important to several European countries.
In fact, there’s something of a United Nations of varieties in the three wines of the range – Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Sicilian and French all get a guernsey.
Varieties such as mencia, nero d’avola, arinto, montepulciano and barbera hook up with the better known grenache, shiraz and tempranillo in this exciting new direction. The wines, which are mainly cellar door with a small amount in restaurants, will knock your socks off with their food friendly drinkability based on low tannins and higher acids.
My advice is to grab some now because they are not going to last long, and you may not see them again.
Nikola Estate The Modernist 2021 ($50)
This is a wine to get your teeth into. It’s a blend of tempranillo shiraz and grenache sourced from Frankland River, Geographe and the Perth Hills, and fermented separately. The floral raspberry plum notes on the nose bring so many of the individual varietal characteristics into the mix. Then there’s a dry dusty dried herb character that introduces a further layer of interest. It’s bright and lively with a subtle tannin and fine acid lift. Structured with supple juicy fruit and finishing dry and slightly savoury.
(Best drinking: Now to 2028)
Nikola Estate The Surrealist 2021 ($50)
This is a montepulciano dominant blend with mencia, nero d’avola and arinto, all cofermented from an experimental block in the Swan Valley with contributions from barbera and grenache for acid and aromatics. It’s a bit of a Heinz varietal mix which works so well. Generous and supple with a floral chocolate opening on the nose. The palate has subtle tannins and a fine lingering acidity that suits this as a food friendly wine. Flavours of raspberry and dark plum and cherry swirl deliciously through a most appealing palate.
(Best drinking: Now to 2028)
Nikola Estate The Minimalist 2021 ($50)
A tiny volume wine that comes from a single barrel of 100% barbera, from a Harvey vineyard that’s since been pulled up. So sadly, there’s no more. It’s a major variety in Italy where the low tannin, high acid style makes it ideal with food. Many Oz barbera can be tough going with harsh palates, yet this fully ripe generous style with that crisp fine piercing acidity is a fine example. Classically medium weight with aromas of cherry and raspberry with a trace of earthy minerality to add complexity. Shone a day after opening.
Best drinking: Now to 2027