GLOBAL SOMMELIER SERIES
WHAT DOES LEANNE DRINK ON HER DAYS OFF?
Beverage Director of Andrew McConnell Restaurants
Gourmet Traveller Magazine’s Sommelier of the Year 2019
Recipient of Negociants Australia Working with Wine Fellowship 2018
Dux of the Advanced Certificate from Court of Master Sommeliers (Australian Course, 2018)
Winner of the Ruinart Sommelier Challenge 2018
Winner of Vin de Champagne Award 2018
Len Evans scholar 2009
MEET LEANNE ALTMANN
SOMMELIER OF THE YEAR | BEVERAGE DIRECTOR | ADVANCED SOMMELIER DUX
Leanne Altmann is a sommelier and wine communicator based in Melbourne, Australia.
A 2009 Len Evans scholar and perpetual student of wine, Leanne holds the WSET Diploma, where she was the top Australian graduate, and the Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced Certificate, dux. She continued her practical wine and service education as the recipient of the Negociants Australia Working with Wine Fellowship, the Ruinart Sommelier Challenge, and the 2018 Vin de Champagne Award. In 2019, Leanne was named Gourmet Traveller Magazine’s Sommelier of the Year.
A passionate wine educator, Leanne is a Certified Educator with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust. She is a contributor to The Saturday Paper and is an occasional wine judge. After joining Cutler & Co. in 2009, Leanne was part of the Supernormal opening team, and has been in her current role of Beverage Director for Trader House Restaurants since 2017. Her current project is the opening of Andrew McConnell’s newest restaurant, Gimlet at Cavendish House.
“There’s a common thread with most wines that I’m drinking – they’re all from family-owned and run wineries. There’s a real sense of human connection. You can see the personalities of the people through their wines along with a feeling of connectedness through their farming methods.”
– Leanne Altmann shares on why she selected these producers
IN THIS SELECTION
FRANKLAND ESTATE ISOLATION RIDGE
What — Riesling
Where — Franklin River, Australia
When — 2018
“Frankland Estate are consistently one of my favourite Australian Riesling producers. Most people focus on the Clare or Eden Valleys when looking at Aussie Riesling, but the quality of the wines from the whole of the Great Southern area are ones to be looked at. Their naming of Isolation Ridge is truly representative of just how remote and isolated they are. For a long time now, Frankland Estate has been a fixture across lists for which I’ve been writing, and I always have a couple of bottles in my own fridge too, which says quite a bit being originally from South Australia! They have this incredible stony and earthy character alongside their fruit. Delicious in their youth, and if you have the patience to age them, you’ll be even further rewarded.”
Character & Tasting Notes — Floral lift with fresh lime, sliced grapefruit and green apple tang
Founded in 1988, Frankland Estate has established itself as one of the leading producers of the lesser-known Frankland River region and moreover, Australia as a whole. Located 250km east of Margaret River, the Frankland River is Australia’s most isolated wine region yet, garnering increasing attention led by the efforts coming from a few led by Frankland Estate. Their Isolation Ridge is testament to quality only possible from the region, forming their flagship bottling with the vineyard having been planted in 1988. The vineyard has been certified organic since 2009 and sits on duplex soils of ironstone gravel over a clay subsoil adding complexity and a distinct minerality to the wines.
The grapes are fermented in stainless steel tanks at low temperatures for an extended period of time to obtain the purest expression of the fruit. Majority of the fruit stays in stainless steel, with a small parcel fermented and aged in older oak barrels to add texture to the wine. Dry in style, Isolation Ridge is a deserved addition to the top tier of Australian Rieslings proving to be an exciting wine to watch as it gains further attention.
What — Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewürztraminer
Where — Tasmania, Australia
When — 2020
Sam Connew is one of those incredibly accomplished people– amazing knowledge, a stunning palate, an attention to detail in both the winery and amongst the vines. When she moved to Tasmania, it was destined to be one of the island’s most amazing startups. Tupelo for me is an amazing example of what’s happening in Australia with its coming of age; its origins may be of an Alsatian blend but it has a unique Australian character unlike Alsatian Gentils. It’s such a food friendly wine. At Supernormal, it’s a marriage of pan-Asian cuisines with a uniquely Australian approach and I love how well this wine works with the variety of food. It is dry but has an impression of sweetness which helps balance things such as spice in dishes. Melbourne has an incredibly diverse array of Asian restaurants & cultures, and Tupelo works so well when there are lots of plates on the table.”
Character & Tasting Notes — Exotic notes of honeysuckle, orange blossom and candied orange skin with a pear tarte tatin character on the palate
Whilst originally hailing from the South Island of New Zealand, Samantha Connew is a name gaining increasing attention for all the right reasons in the Australian wine industry. Having been the previous Senior Winemaker at Wirra Wirra (McLaren Vale, South Australia) for a decade along with working for the Australian Wine Research Institute along with numerous other adventures, Sam’s experience traverses the world of wine. Stargazer, named in honour of Abel Tasman as the first European to sight Tasmania and then the South Island of New Zealand in 1642, was born in 2012 after Sam fell in love with the quality of fruit and potential that Tasmania holds. Tupelo is a blend of Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewurztraminer mirroring that of the Alsatian ‘Gentil’ blend. It becomes a sum of its parts through marrying the body of Pinot Gris, the spicy aromatics of Gewurztraminer with the finesse of Riesling in a dry and aromatically rich expression. Its name is derived from the Tupelo black gum, whose honey has a unique property where the sugars do not crystallise through a balance of its natural sugars. Sam continues to drive the world of wine forward as a member of both Wine Tasmania, along with being on the advisory board of the Australian Women in Wine Awards.
THIBAUD BOUDIGNON ANJOU BLANC
What — Chenin Blanc
Where — Loire Valley, France
When — 2018
“On my last trip to France, I was fortunate enough to visit Thibaud. I have an absolute fascination with Loire Valley Chenin, particularly the wines of Anjou and Saumur. They have a distinctive saltiness and the power of the soils shines through. Thibaud’s wines are very representative of the top quality the region has. They’re concentrated and powerful, yet still have a lightness and life to them. His Anjou Blanc is a youthfully accessible and expressive cuvée, and demonstrates the care and attention to detail that he pays to his wines. There’s a thoughtfulness to his wines.”
Character & Tasting Notes — Elegant nose of beeswax, ripe pear and smoke with a green apple crispness
Thibaud Boudignon has made an incredible name for himself with his eponymous domaine since the beginning of 2009, focusing on pure examples of Chenin Blanc. He produces dry styles of Chenin, combining a delicious youthful approachability with a long future ahead of them. The Anjou Blanc comes from a 35 year old parcel which is farmed organically. Thibaud performs multiple tries (passes) through the vineyard to ensure grapes are of optimal health and maturity, using only hand harvesting. Larger barrels of 300L and 600L size are used with just a small percentage of new oak to keep freshness & transparency to the fruit notes. The wines are fermented naturally, with only minimal sulphur used during the elevage.
Chenin Blanc’s incredible acidity, spectrum of fruit and expression of terroir make it one of the great lesser-known grape varieties that is well worth exploring, and with a producer that is truly leading the potential from Anjou.
BY FARR FARRSIDE
What — Pinot Noir
Where — Geelong, Australia
When — 2017
“I constantly find myself going back to by Farr as one of my favourite Australian producers. They let their wines truly speak for themselves, with a depth and intensity to them. There’s such diversity and personality between each of their cuvées. There’s such a masterful use of whole clusters in the winemaking, with the wines having a silkiness and fragrance without just being “oh they used whole bunch”. Nick’s really taken things to the next level, such an amazing quality year in and year out, while still expressing the vintages. 2017 was a stunning year for by Farr, and Farrside really stood out for me. Despite its structure, it still has a sense of youthful approachability to it. There’s such a satisfaction factor to them whenever I open a bottle of by Farr.”
Character & Tasting Notes — Intertwined & nuanced flavours of strawberry, rhubarb and exotic spices with a rich earthy complexity over a seamless palate
When thinking of the great Pinot Noir regions of Australia, Geelong or the Moorabool Valley is hardly the first region that jumps to mind for most people. That being said, the wines of by Farr, started in 1994 by Robyn and Gary Farr, are amongst the top flight of Pinots being made throughout the country. Having been making wines in the region since the 1980s, Gary, who has been joined by his son Nick since the early 2000s, has an intricate understanding of the soils and microclimate with which they are working. Numerous ‘Burgundian’ parallels have been drawn with the styles of wine made at by Farr; no doubt evidence of the combined twenty vintages they have done with the iconic Domaine Dujac. Like the Seysses family at Dujac, they are fond of whole bunch ferments for their Pinots, and will tailor the amount dependent upon vintage and vineyard to which they are working. 2017 was a ‘classic’ year for Farrside with near perfect growing conditions, and is built around complexity, layered structure and incredible length. It will undoubtedly be rewarded by additional aging, but at the same time is still approachable in its youth.
S.C. PANNELL OLD MCDONALD VINEYARD
What — Grenache
Where — McLaren Vale, Australia
When — 2018
“This is one of the most exciting wines I’ve tried this year. I have a lot of admiration for Steve and his command and understanding of wine. He has a very clear idea of what he’s looking at with his winemaking. I’ve followed him through my career and am most excited about his expressions of Grenache. He believes – and I have to agree – that Grenache is truy McLaren Vale’s signature variety. There’s a renewed interest in Grenache in South Australia, with a particular focus on McLaren Vale for winemakers. Working with old vines and using large format oak, as Steve is doing, are Grenache’s best partners. Steve’s not afraid of tannins and does incredibly well taming them with almost a sandy character; it’s a perfect contrast to the sweet fruited nature of Grenache. He brings a savoury character and amazing structure to his wines. With Steve’s single vineyard Grenaches, there’s such a contrast and transparency between them. He’s making incredible and thoughtful wines with a very clear vision.
My family lives quite close to McLaren Vale, so you could say it’s a ‘home region’ of sorts for me. Whenever I’m back home, I’ll pop into the cellar door and grab a few bottles of Steve’s wines.”
Character & Tasting Notes — Raspberry leaf and five spice aromas over toasted nuts and pomegranate
Born in the wine world, with his parents owning the iconic Moss Wood of Margaret River, Steve Pannell was certainly no stranger to the wine world from a very early age. His career has definitely not been one of resting on laurels from the family’s name as he has forged a path of his own. His international experience includes Chateau Mouton Rothschild in Bordeaux, Domaine des Comtes Lafon in Burgundy and G.D. Vajra in Barolo, along with numerous Australian outposts including Wirra Wirra and Hardy’s Tintara, where he won the Jimmy Watson award for ‘Best Young Red Wine’ in Australia. Not content with a single ‘Jimmy’, Steve backed up his efforts again in 2014 this time with his Adelaide Hills Syrah under his eponymous label. Steve, and wife Fiona, first created the S.C. Pannell label in 2004 and have produced wines under the ethos of “wines that are grown, not made” ever since. Believing that Australia must adapt to the changing climatic conditions, Steve is an ardent believer that “Grenache will become McLaren Vale’s true wine of place”. The Old McDonald Vineyard truly exemplifies this philosophy. Located in the epicentre of McLaren Vale in Blewitt Springs, it is a 75 year old bush-vine vineyard that has been dry-grown. Steve’s approach is to truly display the specifics of the site, and as such uses a 5,000L old oak vat for maturation to retain the fruit purity. The quality of Steve’s wines speak for themselves, with wines built around tannin, structure and balanced fruit expression with Old McDonald Vineyard Grenache truly demonstrating the combination of an incredible winemaker with a very special vineyard.
GD VAJRA JC CLARÉ LANGHE NEBBIOLO
What — Nebbiolo
Where — Piedmont, Italy
When — 2019
“I’m always super excited by Vajra. I’ve been fortunate to drink quite a bit over the years, but feel that recently there’s an increasing vigour and excitement with them. The family has been shifting towards organic viticulture and you can see the quality of the wines rising even more. For me, their Langhe Nebbiolo truly delivers. Their Barolos are absolutely stunning, however, they need time, while the Langhe Nebbiolo has this brightness and freshness to them. It’s always so fragrant and open. Over lockdown this year, I was lucky to chat with Giuseppe over a Zoom session over a glass of his Langhe Nebbiolo as he was walking through the vines. It felt like I was back there.”