A defining estate in the emerging, high altitude region of Orange, NSW
Swinging Bridge was established in 1995 by Tom and Georgie Ward with their extended family, and has been under Tom and Georgie’s full stewardship since 2008. Now one of Orange’s leading and most noted producers, Swinging Bridge are pushing boundaries with experimental small batch wines (the #00s) complementing a solid offering of noble varietals from the region’s high altitude vineyards.
SWINGING BRIDGE PINOT GRIS 2017
Treading the line between Gris and Grigio style, this is an easy drinker with a poke of spice and complexity. Limited skin contact gives clarity of appearance, though the palate is fleshed out with a small portion of the wine matured in old French oak. It's all apple and spiced pear, with some creaminess in the texture derived from time on lees. Closes with decent length and complexity of texture.
SWINGING BRIDGE CHARDONNAY 2017
Sourced from the estate's top hillside block, a lower yielding site which gives pleasing fruit intensity, this 2017 release is a banger for its level.
Sophisticated Chardonnay for its $20 RRP. Some good oak is obvious, with malo nuttiness and leesy characters showing some winemaking love here. Classic Chardonnay flavours of peach and stonefruits around cashew nuts and a dot of clarified butter, with a touch of flint and some racy acidity keeping things interesting. A classy and complex release.
SWINGING BRIDGE MRS PAYTEN CHARDONNAY 2016
This is where things get serious for Orange - Chardonnay is a style of excellence here. One of the region's earliest plantings is the Balmoral vineyard at an elevation of 1050 metres, famed for the great Rosemount chardonnays of the 1990s. Mrs Payten is Tom's grandmother, with this wine first released in 2012 to commemorate her 90th birthday.
This is a style of intensity and generosity. A waxy, almost buttery texture, though this is through lees rather than oak (sees 10 months in tightly grained French barrels). Grapefruit and white peach flavours form the core, over a pleasing flintiness. A nod to the traditional style of Australian chardonnay but keeps a tautness to its frame, and most importantly, high refreshment factor.
SWINGING BRIDGE M.A.W. PINOT NOIR 2016
Named after Tom's father, Mark Andrew Ward, who emigrated from the UK to NSW in the 1960s. This wine combines Pinot clones 114 and 115, and is matured in a combination of small and large French barrels. Grown in the Rowlee vineyard, 910 metres above sea level.
Bright, complex and attractive, maintaining Pinosity throughout. Glossy cherry and plum fruit, with a little whole bunch providing some sappiness and contrast. Acidity is perky and refreshing, and the tannins fine and silky.
SWINGING BRIDGE RESERVE CHARDONNAY BLOCK D 2015
Selected from the best barrels, from the best block of the best vineyard. Wild fermented in barrel. Take it away Mike B:
"It’s sourced from a single block from the Balmoral Vineyard, and best barrels of that single block are selected for this wine. Winemaker Tom Ward is looking for a tighter style, overall. It’s about 30% new oak.
Fresh cut stone fruit, flint, green apple, grapefruit, whiff of nougat and cashew. It’s a beautiful, come-hither chardonnay perfume here. Restrained, trim, just crisp, shows green apple and saline acidity with gentle slip of texture. Elegant, restrained, fine. This is very good chardonnay." 94+ points, Mike Bennie, www.winefront.com.au
SWINGING BRIDGE #006 'TEMPINOT' TEMPRANILLO PINOT BLEND 2017
A nod to the Shiraz Pinot blends of the Hunter Valley; what could be a unique take on such blending to Orange? Blending trials showed this as a fun style indeed. 64% Tempranillo and 36% Pinot, it has the hedonistic hit of fruitcake and dark chocolate provided by Temp, though freshness and fruit is the theme with Pinot the bedfellow. Along the lines of a joven/nouveau style, a fun and juicy red to be glugged in wine bars with grazing plates and of course good company.
SWINGING BRIDGE #003 AMBER FIELD BLEND 2017
Somebody had to do it... the first orange wine from Orange! A field blend of the Alsatian varieties Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer, wild fermented, spending four weeks on skins in open top puncheons, and bottled without fining or filtration. Atypical for some styles of orange/skin contact wine, this is super easy to drink, delicious, highly moreish and food friendly, especially with delicate and spicy Asian.
"Almost has a scent of a strong gin and tonic, in the best possible way. Floral, herbal, faint lemon, fresh sweet pear, juniper. Pretty as. The palate is bright and yet textural, layered in flavours of stone fruits, pear, spice, chalk-like mineral character, long and refreshing in its draw across the mouth. Just lovely stuff – addictive drinking here." 93 points, Mike Bennie, www.winefront.com.au
swinging bridge #004 barrel fermented rosé 2017
Without hyperbolae, this is a bloody exciting wine. For our two cents on the matter, this may well be a benchmark as Australia steps toward defining its own style of rosé. Barrel fermented in seasoned oak, unfined and unfiltered, and bone dry.
"Very good, this. Loaded with texture, fragrance, fruit character. Supreme length of flavour, a mainlining of pinot noirs finesse but with a good dusting of spice, nutty-savouriness and general, fine-boned tannin charm. Rose and the word structure aren’t often seen in the same sentence, unless the word ‘lacking’ is in there too, but here’s one that sets that right. Excellent wine, delicious, refreshing, threatening to make you think." 94 points, Mike Bennie, www.winefront.com.au
swinging bridge #005 pét nat riesling 2017
Barrel fermented Riesling left on solids. Cloudy but fine, a great example of this increasingly popular style. Fresh acidity, green apples, reminiscent of farmhouse cider, and with a fine bubble.
"It’s a fresh-ish-feeling, thirst-slaking, creamy-textured, fizzy white, with a joyous vibe and general more-or-less ease of drinking. It mainlines some of riesling’s more obvious characters, pulpy grapefruit, green apple, floral elements, with a dialling up yeastiness… indeed, you’ll have to like patisserie/bread dough/cookie dough characters to get stuck into this wine. That is the wine’s pro and con, which has me sort of on the fence in assessment. It’s an interesting expression anyway." 89 points, Mike Bennie, www.winefront.com.au