Aussie Rules

POSTED ON 17/05/2014

After an unimpressive tasting of Australian big brands earlier in the year, my faith in Australian wine was restored at this month’s Decanter World Wine Awards. The total of wines tasted by the 200 plus judges at London’s Tobacco Dock topped 15,000 wines for the first time, while Australia’s contribution, at over 1000 wines, was substantial. Numbers don’t necessarily add up to quality, and it was our job sitting nose in glass for a week to sort the wheat of trophies and gold, silver and bronze medals from the also ran chaff. Despite differences of opinion, experienced judging together with enlightened discussion and flexibility bring a high standard to these results, more of which when they are announced next month.

It’s heartening that despite obstacles of perfidious climate and strong currency, Australia has embraced the modern wine era with such vigour that it is now producing fabulous wines across a palette of styles. Some might say that Australia is too focused on shiraz, but when our panel sat down to choose a regional trophy from the 18 shiraz gold medals, a broad diversity of shiraz style was immediately apparent. The wines ranged from the generously rich reds of hot Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale to the spicier more elegant shirazes of cooler Victoria, not to mention traditional blends with cabernet sauvignon and new-wave blends with viognier. The regional diversity story is not confined to shiraz but repeated in Bordeaux-style reds, riesling, semillon and chardonnay, while newer varieties such as viognier and tempranillo are also making their mark.

Earlier this year, I had tasted a range of South Australian shiraz and from one state alone, styles varied considerably. There was the rich black fruit tinged with spice and pepper of Ben Glaetzer’s 2012 Barossa Valley Shiraz, £21 - £27.99, The Wine Society, Great Western Wine, Booths, and, from Clare Valley, a distinctively, sleek, black cherryish, delicately minty and beautifully balanced 2010 Wakefield St.Andrews Shiraz, £30, Bordeaux Index. There were pricier reds but good value too in the likes of the maturely gamey and smoky 2007 De Bortoli McLaren Vale Shiraz, £13.99, Corkscrew Wines, Portland Wine Cellars, and the glossy 2010 The Colonial Estate, Explorateur, Shiraz, £13, Oz Wines.

The Wine Society’s current Australian offer, closing tomorrow, boasts the stylish, cedary, Margaux-like 2005 Glenmore Cabernet Sauvignon, £22, the richly full-flavoured 2011 Leeuwin ‘Prelude’ Margaret River Chardonnay, £24 and complex, Chablis-like 2011 Ocean Eight “Verve” Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay, £24. The diversity story continues with the mouthwateringly dry, lemon and lime-like 2013 Peter Lehmann Portrait Riesling, £10.49, buy 2 = £8.92, Majestic, an expressively fresh, floral, richly apricoty 2012 Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier, £12.99 - £15.99, Waitrose Wine Direct, Hoults, and the sweetly juicy, blackberry-spicy 2012 Sister’s Run Barossa Grenache, £48, 6-bottle case,


Something for the Weekend 17 May 2014

Night In

2013 Tesco Finest* Picpoul de Pinet

This refreshing seafood-friendly dry white from near the oyster and mussel farms of the Etang de Thau shows apple and pear aromas with lively appley bite and citrusy finish, just the ticket for prawns, pizza and picnics. £7.99, Tesco.

Dinner Party

2012 Casa Planeta Grecanico Chardonnay.

From the pioneering Planeta winery in Sicily, this clean, fresh and invitingly dry white blend displays a deliciously appetising quality of zesty-fresh pineappley fruit and finishes on a crisp dry note of limey acidity and freshness. Seafood heaven. £9.99, Co-op.

Splash Out

2011 Savigny-Lès- Beaune, Clos des Guettes, Premier Cru, Domaine A.-F Gros.

Youthful Côte de Beaune pinot noir with an inviting fragrance of sweet red berries and seductively raspberryish flavour combining with freshness and silky-soft, delicately grippy texture; deliciously moreish, classic red Burgundy. £39.95, Jeroboams Shops.


Our sponsor