SOMEWHERE between our chardonnay and sauvignon blanc obsessions, it seems poor old verdelho was left behind. Was it just too simple in its flavours? Maybe, once, but not any more. A number of producers across the country have kept at it, with stylistic diversity proving there’s no better time to restore your faith in this classic Australian summer staple. We blind tasted two dozen examples; here are our top 12.
2021 Vinden Wines Somerset Vineyard Verdelho, Hunter Valley, A$30
Angus Vinden is the proud new custodian of this special site in Pokolbin, though he’s been working with it for years. This is a fine, modern interpretation of Hunter verdelho. It smells like salty sea air and lemon gelato and waves crashing on hot rocks. Texture, finesse, acidity – the epitome of summer drinking. So well done.
2021 Robert Channon Verdelho, Granite Belt, A$30
Channon hangs his hat on verdelho and it’s easy to see why here. This is tightly wound with tropical fruit flavours and a crisp, clean core of mineral acidity. Super refreshing right now or give it a bit of time for extra complexity.
2020 Sandalford Estate Reserve Verdelho, Margaret River, A$25
With origins in the Swan Valley, Sandalford and verdelho go hand-in-hand. This is lighter-bodied in style, with aromas of rockmelon, dried herbs and petrichor leading to a palate of lime, cream and green peppercorns. The salty phenolics keep it all in check.
2021 Yokel Verdelho, Swan Valley, A$30
Jo Perry’s Yokel label raises a bit of coin for the endangered native Western Swamp Tortoise while paying homage to the great old vines of the Swan Valley. This saw skin contact, three months’ battonage and MLF, resulting in a textural wine rounded out by grippy tannins.
2020 Bremerton Mollie & Merle Verdelho, Langhorne Creek, A$18
Named in honour of the Willson sisters’ grandmothers, this sits square in the citrus spectrum with its yuzu and crushed lime leaf aromas. The wine is vibrant, saline and deeply refreshing – it’s practically the vinous version of a margarita. You can almost hear the slush of the ice as you prise it from the esky. Value plus.
2021 Tamburlaine Grapevine Verdelho, Hunter Valley & Central Ranges, A$25
Fresh, easy-drinking verdelho is part of the DNA of Tamburlaine, NSW’s foremost organic producer. Passionfruit and grilled pineapple aromas and flavours swiftly shift to food-friendly mode when the pepper and cardamom-laced finish sets in.
2021 Allandale Verdelho, Hunter Valley, A$22
Simple is often best, as is the case with this classic take from one of the Hunter’s stalwart producers. Cold, stainless steel fermentation has resulted in a vibrant wine with makrut lime zest flavours and creamy fruit guided perfectly by dart-like acidity. As fresh as a spring day.
2020 Boydell’s Barrington Verdelho, Hunter Valley, A$30
A high-energy example fermented on full solids, from the Boydell’s vineyard near Barrington Tops. It’s all apple flowers and alpine herbs with apricot kernel and estery notes. Ferrous acidity brings it all into focus. Serve alongside a truffle roast chicken for maximum impact.
2021 Cassegrain White Label Verdelho, Central Ranges & Hunter Valley, A$28
Pioneers of the Hastings River GI since 1980, the Cassegrain family also looks to other parts of NSW to bolster their already steady offering. Fresh herbs, tropical fruits and citrus lead the way to a chalky, puckery palate. It’d go dangerously well with a spicy kra pao moo grob.
2021 La Kooki Carbonic Blanc, Margaret River, A$25
A fascinating take on the variety from Ely Jarvis and Glenn Goodall, this underwent carbonic maceration before wild fermentation in old French oak. Interesting is an understatement; there’s toast, cashew, pickled lime and vanilla pastry, but it’s more about feel and texture than flavour. Mouthwatering acidity and chewy, pithy phenolics lead the way for the next glass.
2021 Varney Wines Entrada Verdelho, Langhorne Creek, A$25
From one of McLaren Vale’s most exciting producers comes this number from up the road, inspired by Alan Varney’s time in Portugal. True to its name, it’s vibrant and thirst-quenching but not short on complexity, with notes of bay leaf and honeysuckle, and pebbly acidity.
2021 De Iuliis Verdelho, Hunter Valley, A$25
A benchmark for the Hunter, this shows lemon rind, lime flower and kiwi aromas, with glossy fruit tempered by prickly acidity and a crisp, dry finish. Guaranteed to scratch the ‘glass of cold white wine’ itch – and then some.