Ben Haines Roussanne 2017
#17 Wine Enthusiast Top 100 Wines of 2019
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Ben Haines has emerged as one of Australia’s finest Marsanne producers, and here he proves he’s just as deft with Roussanne, balancing heady aromatics, texture, freshness and complexity. Pale gold in hue, it bursts with fragrances of bruised apples, nectarines, fresh ginger, florals, nuts and smoke. It’s creamy with phenolic complexity, sliced through with mouthwatering acidity and closing on a long apple orchard note.
The vineyards he chooses are those possessing great interest, charm and depth, and that capture a sense of mystique. Ben’s base is the Yarra Valley where he has made wine at Yering Station and Mount Langi Ghiran. His own exploration goes far beyond. Having trained in viticulture, he pays close attention to what’s happening in each vineyard throughout the growing season. His wines are intensely textural with flavors continuing to develop sip after sip. Fruit is expressive, structure is present without being constraining.
From around Victoria, Ben has crafted single-vineyard expressions of Rhone varieties in small batches. He also has a series of wines called "B Minor", including blends that speak to him and his musical background, as well as an undisgorged Blanc de Blanc. Unfined and unfiltered wines that are intended to express, in his words, ‘the vineyard in a glass’.
As the most important area of wine production in Victoria today, the Yarra Valley is most popular for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which account for over half of vineyard acreage. A gentle, rolling and rural region alongside the Margaret River, the Yarra Valley has a cool maritime climate with a lengthy growing season, perfect for these cool-climate varieties.
Two styles of Pinot Noir are possible here. The warmer Lower Yarra Valley with sandy, loam soils, produces plush and fruity Pinot Noir while the cooler, higher-elevation Upper Yarra Valley with soils of young red basalt, produces more angular and mineral-driven Pinot Noir.
Yarra Valley Chardonnay is among the best in Australia. To preserve the floral aromatics and fresh citrus flavors for which this area’s Chardonnay is so appreciated, time in barrel is restrained (though barrel fermentation is common). The best Yarra Valley Chardonnays display brilliant acidity, leesy characteristics, citrus, stone fruit and flavors of ginger and spice.
Full and silky in body but also charmingly crisp, Roussanne is native to the Rhône Valley of France. It is responsible for some of the finest Northern Rhône white wines. Roussanne adds richness and acidity to Marsanne’s soft, fruitiness, making age worthy and highly respected whites. Somm Secret—Roussanne takes its name from the French word, roux, meaning rouge or red because of the berry’s pink glow. In California, virtually all of the 339 acres of Roussanne come from true clones brought over by Tablas Creek and John Alban.