Robert Channon, Verdelho 2015
One of Australia’s most underrated white wine grapes must surely be the Portuguese import, Verdelho. It’s a style which for some reason is mainly used for blending in dry white blends, such as Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. But with the intensity of flavour and the delicious overtones of lime and honeysuckle, I reckon it’s an aromatic style that is worthy of large-scale production as a single varietal.
The Verdelho hails from the small island of Madeira off the Coast of Portugal where it was first planted in about the 15th Century. In its native homeland, the wine is made in a relatively dry style which is notoriously high in acid but can have intense fruit characters in its youth. The Portuguese Verdelho based table wines are typically allowed to fully ripen before it’s harvested so as to allow more robust flavours and higher sugar levels to develop but often, it is also blended with other white varietals to then introduce more acidity and provide structure.
The Verdelho style is generally made in water climates around the globe including new world regions like Argentina and Spain. In Australia, Verdelho has proven to do very well in regions like the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, Langhorne Creek in South Australia and closer to home, in the South Burnett wine region. While I hesitate slightly to make such a bold statement that might upset a few apple carts, I truly believe that the South Burnett is making some of the best Verdelho wines that Australia has ever produced.
One of the most agreeable personality traits of Verdelho is its versatility. Because of the tropical fruit characters and the strength of its acidic backbone, it plays as well in the sandpit with delicate seafoods like oysters, scallops and shellfish as well as spicy Thai or Chinese dishes. I’ve served it with lemon ginger chicken and it has worked perfectly yet it has also equally impressed served with scallops in their shells or even just natural Sydney rock oysters!
One of my favourite Verdelhos of the Stanthorpe region is undoubtedly the Robert Channon Verdelho and the 2015 vintage was probably one of his best. Even wine writer James Halliday gave it 94/100 -which for a Queensland wine is somewhat of a rarity!
The nose of the Robert Channon 2015 creation chows delightful floral and aromatic characters whilst on the palate, wave after wave of tropical fruit and stone fruit pound their way across your tongue. There’s a hint of oiliness that leaves the impression of a well-rounded and luscious mouthfeel while hints of peach, apricot, pineapple and rockmelon leave their calling cards around the edges. The wine has a citric backbone which balances the butteriness that surreptitiously evolved through the middle and leaves a lingering, crisp, passionfruit laced finale.
I haven’t seen the Robert Channon Verdelho sold in too many local outlets, but it’s easy enough to order online from the cellar door and at its modest $25 price point, it represents outstanding value. You’ll certainly pay a lot more many Sauvignon Blanc or other aromatic styles that are far less adaptable in food pairings and have far less character than this homegrown superstar of South East Queensland viticulture.