Aussie wine traditionally puts on its best strides on Australia Day, and the word on the street after its showcasing of 1000 plus wines was that Oz has boomeranged back. Not that it actually went anywhere unless you’re of the whingeing Jeremiah persuasion. 14 trophies and 40 gold medals at the most recent Decanter World Wine Awards is proof that the Australian wine success story has remained consistent despite, admittedly, an Achilles heel of excessive discounting and a failure to communicate the value of its fine wines.
While sauvignon, semillon, marsanne and viognier are increasingly impressive, the most exciting whites are cool climate chardonnays and Clare, Eden Valley and Frankland rieslings. The floral, fragrant 2013 Leasingham Bin 7 Riesling, £12.99, Wine Rack, the citrus-fresh, lemongrassy 2013 Rolf Binder Highness Eden Valley, £10.99, Waitrose and the fragrantly lemon and limey 2014 Pikes Hills and Valleys Riesling, £1.75-12.99, James Nicholson, Oxford Wine are delicious, youthfully refreshing rieslings; the mature, honey-on-toast, grapefruity 2009 Pewsey Vale Contours Riesling, £15.90, Field & Fawcett, a fine bottle-aged version.
While Australia is breaking the mould with upcoming Italian, Spanish and Portuguese red varieties, it still puts its best foot forward with tried and tested shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and, increasingly, thanks to Victorian beauties from the likes of Yabby Lake, Kooyong and Ten Minutes by Tractor, with pinot noir. Drawing on the warm climate of Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale with their stock of Mediterranean grape varieties, one of the more promising emerging new red styles is its Rhône Valley style blends.
At a recent Decanter tasting of grenache, shiraz and mourvèdre blends, my favourite GSMs included a magnificently spicy and complex 2012 Spinifex Esprit GSM, £26, Philglas & Swiggot and finely crafted, peppery 2013 Ruggabellus Efferus, £33.95, winedirect. Among the best values were a succulently strawberryish 2014 Angove’s Family Crest, McLaren Vale, GSM, £10.99, Laithwaites, a liquorice spicy cherry-savoury 2013 Kilakanoon Killerman’s Run GSM, £15.95, James Nicholson, a supple and savoury 2014 Rusty Mutt, Rocky Ox GSM, Dog Day Wines, £17.95, Tilley’s Wines, and a textured, ripe mulberryish 2012 Elderton Greenock Two GSM, £19.49, Noel Young.
Something for the Weekend 13 February 2013
2014 Santa Julia Uco Valley Tempranillo
With a rioja-esque smattering of vanilla oak, this fragrant, youthful and concentrated cherry and strawberryish, high Andes tempranillo from Argentina’s Zuccardi family is a bit of a bargain at this price. £7.50, down from £10, until 23 February, Sainsbury’s.
2012 Corte Ibla Nero d’Avola Terre Siciliane.
Wine maestro Stefano Chioccoli has worked the native Sicilian nero d’avola grape into a finely perfumed rosso whose cherry and damson plum fruitiness shows a gamey touch of complexity and a satisfyingly savoury finish. £12, Marks & Spencer.
2012 La Massa Toscana, IGT
This is an elegantly crafted Tuscany-meets-Bordeaux blend of mainly sangiovese which brings sweet and sour cherry opulence and a touch of merlot and cabernet for textured blackcurrant fruitiness behind a polished cedary veneer of oak and firm backbone. £18.95, Tanners.