An Introduction to Australian Wine: Part 2

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Now, after part 1, I think is the perfect time to look at the different regions within Australia. Now depending on what you’re looking for, Australia has a region for it. For example I want a really big peppery Shiraz, well then I go to the Barrossa Valley, maybe I want a much more refined ripe fruit Shiraz… well then I simply leave Barrossa and head over to the Clare Valley or Maclaren Vale! I know it doesn’t really make much sense- if I’m honest I don’t really have a full grasp on it yet either. All I know is that different grapes need different elements… but at the heart of it all- they all require a long time to ripen, that way they are more infused with flavour. Which makes sense- think about it, if something grows too quickly its going to miss out on a lot of stuff. So its down to the Wine maker to pick a region that will help grapes ripen slowly but surely. One of the best ways to do this to have a diurnal climate… basically meaning warm days and cool night. I know it’s a bit confusing, but trust me I’ve been reading a lot about it, and essentially that’s one of the main keys to growing grapes. Also soil matters- but that’s a whole can of worms that really doesn’t need to be opened at this point… So below we get a tiny bit technical… I know, I know, but it really was unavoidable- there’s only so long I can waffle on, before I have to give ye some useful information- but what I said in Part1 remains true, I’ll try and keep it as easy as possible!

Clare valley:

The Clare valley is unique to Australia with its cool nights and hot summer days, which ensures the fruit ripens slower and more evenly than elsewhere (seeeee diurnal climate… told you!). The Clare Valley is unique for its abundance of eucalyptus trees, which fill red wines- such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz- with a touch of mint. I know- relax, for some reason the word mint terrifies people when it comes to Clare Valley Cabernets… But trust me when they’re done correctly Clare Valley wines stamp their authority as some of the most special wines in the world- even with the mint! Honestly try some of them- a good example of top quality Clare Valley wine is the O’Leary-Walker Cabernet Sauvignon!

McLaren Vale:

Comprised of many different “terroirs”, the McLaren Vale offers an array of different wines- each giving distinction to the wines produced in this area. McLaren Vale Shiraz displays pronounced berry and spice characters with some dark chocolate and liquorice, while Shiraz from cooler sub-regions exhibits defined ripe raspberry characters. McLaren Vale Shiraz is renowned for its great softness and rolling palate.

Southern Flinders:

Located north of the Clare Valley, Southern Flinders receives a large amount of Sunshine. However, this sunshine is tempered by virtue of the fact that the region is elevated which serves to keep it cool, and therefore the grapes ripen earlier than in the neighbouring Clare Valley. Southern Flinders is capable of creating great reds in Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon- however, like other regions in Australia its best known for its Shiraz’s.

Coonawarra:

Coonawarra is synonymous with classy Cabernet Sauvignon, full of plum and blackcurrant fruit. So much so, that successes with other grape varieties is overlooked. The limestone geology also suits Chardonnay and Riesling, but with Cabernets like these there is little need to look too far afield.

Barossa:

The Barossa Valley is best known for its Shiraz. Australia‘s, and some of the world’s oldest Shiraz vines still live on in the Barossa from low yielding dry grown bush vines that produce highly concentrated, lush, complex, rich, intense, and full-bodied wines. Softened by some oak and resplendent with juicy berry fruit, dark bitter chocolate and slight minty characteristics, Barossa Shiraz is renowned throughout the world as one of the best. Barossan Shiraz’s may have been on the map for a while but now they are also turning their hand the white variety- Viognier.

Eden Valley:

The Eden Valley wine region includes the High Eden sub-region and is known for its rockier, more acidic soil than the neighboring Barossa Valley. The area has a higher elevation, and thus has a colder, wetter climate. The Eden Valley is home to the Hill of Grace vineyard with its 130+ year old Shiraz vines that are behind the world renowned Henschke Hill of Grace wine. The Eden Valley has also gained international attention for its limestone noted Rieslings.

Margaret River:

The climate of Margaret River is more strongly maritime-influenced than any other major Australian region. The low diurnal and seasonal temperature range means an unusually even accumulation of warmth. Basically the climate is similar to that of Bordeaux in a dry vintage. Interesting fact about Margaret River… the region produces just three percent of total Australian grape production, but it produces over 20 percent of Australia‘s premium wine market. The principal grape varieties are fairly evenly split between red and white; Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, Merlot.

Victoria:

As diverse as they come. With over 600 wineries, Victoria has more wine producers than any other Australian wine-producing state but ranks third in overall wine production due to the lack of mass bulk wine-production. The style of wine ranges from full body red wine to dry white’s.

Adelaide Hills:

Boasting a much cooler climate than other prominent Australian regions, Adelaide Hills is the perfect Region for Sauvignon Blanc, Cool Crisp Chadonnay, and also Pinot Noir. The cool days and nights suit the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but also its clay soil retains enough water to prevent either from becoming overly Jammy. Now I Know I talked a lot about Shiraz- even told you it was in my top 5, but I think Pinot Noir would have to be my favourite red! I love the subtlty of it and how a good one will always surprise you, and that’s exactly what the O’Leary-Walker wine does. Its Silky Smooth with a slight touch of Spice on the palate! Also for all those People who hate Chardonnay… try their Adleaide hills Chardonnay. The biggest problem with Chardonnay is how oaked it is- but the oak can be brilliant… if its done right! Now O’Leary-Walker wines are not ones to do things by half measures- AT ALL! This Chardonnay will get you lookin differently at the grape!

Phew! Congratulations to those who read all that, and for those who just skipped to this part well at least now you know where to find the info you’re looking for! Anyways thats everything I can think of with regards to Australian wine- I’m sure I’m leaving loads out, but feel free to call me on it!

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An Introduction to Australian Wine- Part 1

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 Now… From the get go- DO NOT FEAR!! This will be kept as easy as possible, wine can be a surprisingly easy thing to come to terms with- once you know where to start! For me it was starting working here- I’m sure all of our regular customers will remember the terrified look in my eyes every time someone came, I was like a deer caught in the headlights petrified in case they asked me something which I would have no clue how to answer. Now I’m not saying I’m an expert at this stage, so so so so far from it, but the easiest way I found was to just pick a country, try some wines from the different regions (it doesn’t matter if you have a developed palate or not), and see what I liked myself. After all at the end of the day when you know what you like you can take it from there. So for the sake of these AWESOME blogs we’ll be focussing on Australia- and why wouldn’t we? With a history of amazing movies like Crocodile Dundee, and incredible facts like In 1954 Bob Hawke made it into the Guinness Record Book for sculling 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds. Bob Hawke went on to become the Prime Minister of Australia. How could you not love this country?

Australia is brilliant, so many different regions, so many different types of wine, and so many winemakers who are willing to try out new techniques. It really does encompass a lot of styles, and the Australians do not shy away from taking on the old world at their own game. The main grape variety in Australia is Shiraz, sometimes you will see it written as Syrah, but they are essentially the same thing. Now one little argument which I think should be laid to rest, at this stage, is the origins of the word Shiraz… Yes I know there is a place in Iran called Shiraz too and therefore the grape has to come from there! I’m afraid that’s all just a coincidence, a pretty freaky one I might add- what the hell are the chances? But, yes from what I’ve read there is no evidence at all that that’s where it comes from. It’s more likely that the main reason behind the differences between the two words is down to good old English mispronunciation… Don’t believe me? Well look at the word whiskey…. Came from the Irish Fuisce Beatha (one of a few Irish words to enter the English language…). So it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Syrah was mispronounced Shiraz- Long story short Syrah and Shiraz are the same thing!

Now Shiraz is a great grape- easily in my top 5! And what makes it so good? I hear you call… Well as I talked about at a great length above, the grape is popular in France, particularly the Cotes Du Rhone, where it goes by the name Syrah. It is one of the more important ingredients when making a top notch Châteneuf-du-Pape. So Syrah/Shiraz was takin from france in 1832 by James Busby- clearly a fan of wine but much more known for all the stuff he did for New Zealand… maybe they should have called him James BUSY…. Cause of the wine… and the stuff with New Zealand… anyyywayyssss…. Aren’t we all glad that he did bring it with him, because around the 1970’s the Australians were getting pretty thirsty (like our little squirrel friend here!)- and more than anything else they wanted a nice big full-bodied red, that would quench this insatiable thirst. So of course they turned to Shiraz. It took off in a big way; all those vines that had been left lying around sine Busby’s time were now producing some of the greatest wines the Australian’s had ever tasted. But this wasn’t enough! They looked back to the old world, at what France were doing and they started creating some classic Côtes-du-Rhône blends. The possibilities were limitless now- Shiraz and Viognier were a triumph together, Grenache-Shiraz-Mourvèdre (GSM) Brilliant! Yes the Shiraz Grape really won the affections of the Australians, but the key to it being so popular in Australia was not its dependability…. On the contrary it was how different it would be between the regions. The Australians had this brilliant Full bodied Grape- but whats more they had variety like no other country could have in the world! Shiraz produces wines with a wide range of flavour notes, depending on the climate and soils where it is grown, as well as other viticultural practices chosen. Aroma characters can range from violets to berries (usually dark as opposed to red), chocolate, espresso and black pepper. No one aroma can be called “typical” but generally blackberry and pepper are the most pronounced. But at the heart of all this success the Austrlians had, not just with Shiraz but with other grape varieties too, there was one defining atttribute which set them apart from the old world- basically it was the lack of rules and regulations. Most if not all the old world regions have a fixed set of rules which determines what grapes are to be grown and where- France with their AOC, Spain with its DOC, Italy with their DOCG’S, and while these do ensure a certain level of quality… they confine producers to an old way of wine making. But in Australia those rules don’t exist- it’s a playground for winemakers. Look at the O’Leary-Walker Shiraz. They take 70% of their Shiraz grapes from the Clare valley, and the other 30% from the McLaren vale- and because of this blend you get a shiraz which is truly unique to not only to O’Leary-Walker wines, but also Australia! Now in the next Blog we will be going a little more in depth with regards Regions (it’ll be better than it sounds trust me!) which are really important for anyone looking to further their knowledge of wine!

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Last days to enter sweepstakes!!

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First off… apologies to for taking so long to get back to the blogging- been pretty busy these last couple of weeks, what with our New Zealand wine dinner and our new promotion. Anyways this is just a little reminder that there is only a few days left to enter our sweepstakes we’re having in store! Basically for anyone who doesn’t know we’ve decided to throw together 2 competitions to coincide with our Woodberrys 5-A-Side promotion. Its pretty easy- there will be 2 draws for whoever guesses which team will win the World cup (whoever wins will get a case of wine!!) and the second one is for whoever guesses the golden boot winner (the winner gets a magnum of prosseco!!) Obviously we can’t keep it going right up to the final so we’ll have to stop taking in entries after the group stages are over… But hasn’t it been an interesting world cup so far? The Brazilians are playing actual football, Maradonna turned out to be a pretty decent manager, the French are all but out and the English aren’t good as expected… well somethings never change! So if you think that the English team might actually rally, or that David Villa might start knocking in the goals at any stage now then you’ve only got a couple more days to get into the store and enter!

Chateauneuf-du-CRAP???

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Well as you can guess from the title this blog takes a good look at the Chateauneuf-du-Pape region in the south of France. Its famous for a couple of reasons- firstly its got a cool name, the popes new house, and a cool name is really what its all about! Just look at the d’Arenberg wines in Australia! However, cool name aside some people question the regions legitimate claim to being among the best wines in the world. It gained a huge amount of popularity when the messiah of wine Robert Parker started singing its praises all those years ago- and since then not only has the region gone from strength to strength but it has also made Robert Parker an honoury member of their village! Well can you blame them???? After all since he started promoting the wines in the states, sales have increased fourfold!! And all they do is make him an honoury member??? I’d make him King!
Anyways- so the wines are sometimes accused of not being worth the price… because they’re are a little too rustic and of limited appeal. Now this is where i could go on and on about how the region allows 14 different grape varieties, and has such an array of different soil types that its preposterous to even suggest its got limited appeal! But you know what- that’s not what wine is about! Its important to know these things if you’re producing wine, and its even interesting if you like wine a lot! But at the end of the day, what makes wine so universally appealing is- ironically- its inconsistency. Each vintage is different, each grape is unique, and most importantly- everyone’s palate is absolutely different! So i could tell you all about how i really like the wines form this region, but that’s just my opinion! At the end of the day these wines just agree with my palate, not all mind, but definitely i have tried some great wines from around there and i didn’t think they were overpriced or of limited appeal! So give them a try- because that’s what its all about! For those who stick with the same bottle of wine all the time, that’s grand but you shouldn’t be afraid to branch out- lifes too short…

And now for something completely different!

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Alright, so for something a little different today I’m going to be focusing on Coffee…. but not just any coffee- THE BEST COFFEE I’VE EVER HAD! Let me put this in context… for years there i never once had breakfast… my morning routine consisted of standing out in the back garden with my boxers on with a cigarette in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. And for 5 or so years that was what i woke up to… But recently- and I mean majorly recently i quit the cigarettes… yes yes, I now walk around in a daze, constantly agitated by how itchy the nicotine patches are, chewing an inordinate amount of gum, and being genuinely amazed at how nice flowers smell…. But what’s my point??? Well I knew the real challenge would be those moments i used to enjoy a smoke on my own- like the coffee in the morning… so i abstained from the coffee for a while, simply out of not wanting to ruin my new healthy lifestyle by waving temptation in front of my face.

But yesterday morning i decided to have a coffee- made from my swanky espresso machine! And i realised that if i don’t want to smoke, then I’ll have to have a coffee that will be so good i won’t even have time to think about smoking! Now my choice was Maria Sole (like the build up to the plug?) which we sell in the store! But it was easily the best coffee I’ve ever had- here’s why! It didn’t have that big caffeine kick to it, which is nice because then it simply gives you an alert calmness, also it didn’t have a big acidic side to it either, which is fantastic because i suffer from chronic indigestion and heart burn, and finally it was full of flavours- and that’s what made me think about doing the blog on it, because with wine the thing I’ve come to love is how different flavours pop up on your palate and you have differentiate between them. Now maybe it was my taste buds coming back to life after years of smoking, maybe the coffee was absolutely amazing- but one thing is for sure, the coffee distracted me form ever even thinking about cigarettes!
So there you have it- a coffee so good, it completely distracted me from ever even thinking about that which I could not live without for so long! Now that my little spiel about my endeavours to quit smoking are over, we’ll get back to normal order soon with some bizarrely cleverly titled blog about wine like…. I don’t know…. Chateauneuf-du-CRAP???
Talk to ye soon!

Rapberry Lemonade just the thing

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We’ve got two new Pressé varieties; Raspberry Lemonade tastes as gorgeous as it looks. Real raspberries and real lemon juice give this drink a fresh zingy taste. Or perhaps our Organic Orange & Jasmine; a zesty blend of real orange, lime and lemon juices with a hint of fragrant Jasmine would be more to your taste? A perfect to unwind in the garden with at the end of a busy day of sunshine.

 Why not give them all a whirl and then let us know what you think…maybe one of our fabulously fruity fresh faces could become a new firm favourite! Or maybe you’ll stick with the Old favourites like Organic Elderflower or traditional Organic Lemonade. All Belvoir pressés are currently on offer at two bottles for €5.

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