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Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2019 Elsa – John Lewis, Newcastle Herald

Rating: Stars

The MossWood 2019 RibbonVale Elsa is a harmony of fine fruit and judicious oak. It shines lime green-tinted straw and has passionfruit scents and gooseberry front-palate. The middle shows quince, preserved lemon, honeydew melon and subtle cashew oak and the finish slatey acid.  Drinkwith: sushi. Ageing: six years

Thanks to a “Three Musketeers” of younger generation winemakers, Keith and Clare Mugford’s Moss Wood winery has introduced its first new product in seven years. Now added to the Margaret River operation’s ever-immaculate portfolio is a $76-a-bottle French oak-matured Ribbon Vale vineyard sauvignon blanc named in honour ofClare’s late mother Elsa Montgomery. It’s a terrific wine, arguably the equal of Cloudy Bay Te Koko Marlborough wines that sweep away my usual lack of enthusiasm for sauvignon blanc. Keith Mugford tells me it’s not the first straight sauvignon blanc produced at Moss Wood. One experimental wine was made in 2000, but it was replaced from 2001 on by the highly successful Ribbon Vale sauvignon blanc-semillon blends. Keith says the 2019 Ribbon Vale Elsa aims to show the nuanced and complex aspects of sauvignon blanc seen in its traditional homes of France’s Bordeaux, Sancerre and Pouilly Fume. Elsa was prompted by Moss Wood assistant winemaker Alex Coultas and Keith and Clare’s two Adelaide University-graduate winemaker sons Tristan, 30, and Hugh, 27. Dubbed the Three Musketeers, they were persuaded by their time at trade shows and customer tastings to do something different with sauvignon blanc. Elsa’s creation at the 2019 vintaqe came with infinite care. Fruit was hand-picked, sorted and crushed and the juice was given multiple yeast primary fermentation for five days. It was then racked off to 228-litre French oak barrels, 10 per cent of which were new. To determine how long it should stay in oak, the wine was tasted monthly – finally being bottled after 10 months in wood. Keith Mugford concedes that Elsa’s $76 price is a great departure from the global “Sauvalanche” of reasonable-priced New Zealand wines of consistent quality and style. It was an exploration of the potential of sauvignon blanc from Ribbon Vale and in no way in competition with the “cheap, cheerful and at times industrial” Kiwi sauvignon blancs. Moss Wood’s last new product, the botrytis semillon-sauvignon blanc was released in 2013, adding to a lineup of wines from the Ribbon Vale vineyard bought by the Mugfords in 2000 and the neighbouring original Moss Wood vineyard planted in 1969 by Busselton medico Bill Pannell and owned by the Mugfords since 1985. As well as the Elsa, Ribbon Vale provides grapes for cabernet sauvignon, merlot, sauvignon-semillon and botrytis semillon-sauvignon blanc releases. The original Wilyabrup vineyard provides the Estate range cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, pinot noir and semillon wines.

5.5 stars out of 6

 

Published April 8th, 2020