Tags: Wine. Sauvignon Blanc. Shiraz Viognier. Chardonnay. Champaign. Australian Wineries.
THE BRIBIE WINELANDER
Now that we are into the new year, it’s out with the old and in with the new. It is time to acquaint ourselves with some new kids on the block and perhaps along the way reacquaint ourselves with some old favourites and see what has happened to them.
Over the last few years, winemakers have returned to the old world of grape growing to diversify into some of the European grape varieties that never originally made it to Australian shores.
We now have opportunities to try our palates out on some of these. Sticking with the same style is a very safe way of making sure you don’t waste your hard earned cash on something you may not like but it can also be very boring. Remember when you discovered Sauvignon Blanc and that “eureka” moment which changed your wine experience forever? Well, I welcome you to experiment yourself and here a few suggestions if you enjoy dry white wines.
Viognier came to Australia in the late 1990’s and I remember Yalumba having billboards advertising its arrival with tongue-in-cheek humour. Whilst we didn’t rush out and purchase huge quantities, it is still out there and makes for a very easy drinking flavourful dry white.
There is some confusion when the variety also appears on labels of red wines and becomes Shiraz Viognier. Although Viognier is still a white wine variety, blending just 5% with Shiraz softens the wine down, which as we discussed last month, at this quantity doesn’t always need to be shown on the label. Thank goodness it has now been removed from most labels even though the variety probably is still there.
Other new grape varieties are Vermentino and Trebbiano. Expand your taste buds and look for these styles from wineries such as Brown Bros., or Pizzini from Victoria. With red wines look for Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Nero d’Avola, Nebbiolo and one of my favourites, Durif. Durif isn’t strictly a new variety but is probably not familiar to many. The wineries who do it well such as The Calabria’s of Griffiths Three Bridges Durif, DeBortoli’s Vat 1 Durif and Morris Durif from Rutherglen Victoria offer an alternative to your regular tiple and they can often be big and bold.
These varieties can be cellared for twenty years or more. With the diverse climate conditions in Australia we can grow almost any grape variety successfully somewhere and make a pretty good fist of it. With the fairly attractive exchange rate at the moment it is also possible to buy imported wines with these grape varieties at reasonable prices and compare just how good our winemakers are.
It is also good to drink the grape variety of the original country with a food course to match, say a Tempranillo with a Paella, a Sangiovese with a beef lasagne, or a Trebbiano with an antipasti or seafood risotto. Australian Riesling is another often overlooked quality wine.
Due to the arrival of so many new varieties, it is possible to overlook some old favourites and one I often bore people with is Riesling and for good reason. Australia makes fabulous dry wines from this variety. We still are the second largest planting worldwide to Germany and until the late 1980’s it was our largest planted white wine variety before we fell in love with Chardonnay.
It is said that the success of the four-litre cask was to blame for its demise as it also carried the name Riesling when in fact the juice came from other varieties such as Sultanas and produced a less than dry fruity style — one far removed from the great wine true Riesling grapes can produce. As it is now the new year, if you’re someone who enjoys a great dry white head down to your local liquor store and buy an Australian Riesling from The Clare Valley, The Eden Valley, The Great Southern in Western Australia, or Tasmania. Look for names such as Killikanoon, Jim Barry, Bay of Fires, Grosset, Henschke and Leasingham. There are of course many more.
The characters to look for are lemons and limes which make them perfect match with fish, oysters and anything that goes well a squeeze of lemon juice on it. Good Rieslings will age gracefully and lose their citrus flavours replacing them with honey and sometimes oily characters. Moving onto red, and specifically Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is an interesting but sometimes troubled grape variety in Australia.
It was once said of 400 wineries that produced the wine that you could have 400 different styles ranging from rich and earthy to jammy and somewhat sweet. Pinot Noir grapes originated in Burgundy in France where strict controls are in place to maintain the quality of the grapes. There Terroir is an important phrase used describing the importance of climate, soils and grape quality and this produces generous, rich, mouth-filling wines. In fact, a Grand Crus can cost many hundreds of dollars per bottle and are often sold out before the grapes are picked!
In Australia the better Pinot Noir wines come from cooler regions such as Gippsland, Macedon Ranges, The Mornington Peninsular, and The Yarra Valley in Victoria, and The Porongerups in Western Australia and Tasmania. Look for names such as Moorilla Estate, Mount Mary, Paringa Estate, Yabby Lake and Castle Rock to taste the best of this variety. Cheers!
JANUARY’S WINE SUGGESTIONS FOR AN EXCITING START TO THE NEW YEAR:
- O’Leary Walker Watervale Riesling
- Bleasdale Adelaide Hills Pinot Gris
- Vasse Felix Semillon Sauvignon Blanc.
- Tyrells Semillon
- Xanadu “Next of Kin” Chardonnays
- De Bortoli Bella Riva Sangiovese
- Brookland Valley Verse 1 Cabernet Merlot
- De Bortoli Gulf Station Pinot Noir
- Seppelt Chalambar Grampions Heathcote Shiraz
Philip Arlidge [email protected]