Australia Day Suggestions

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While Australian wines are going from strength to strength i terms of quality and regional diversity, we have noticed that a great may people have given up on finding that new or exciting bottle from among the ranks of our Aussie selections. They all seem to believe its all about over oaked Chardonnay or big fruit bombs of Shiraz. Well hopefully this post will change your mind we’ve selected 3 of our favourite Aussie wines that move from the classic ingrained idea of what Aussie wine is.

Weemala Tempranillo1) Weemala Tempranillo 2012, Mudgee

Delightful aromas of sarsaparilla, tobacco, red berries and cherries. the palate is robust but not heavy with a gentle kiss of vanilla and red cherry fruit on the finish. An interesting take on the Spanish classic variety Tempranillo.

 

2) Logan Pinot Noir 2013, Orange Logan Pinot Noir

This red pours a beautifully brick red with deeper hues of crimson towards the centre. Soft, silky flavours of red berries and cinnamon spice over perfumed aromas of cherry, chinotto and dried herbs. Beats many a burgundy in terms of quality and drinkablity even at twice it’s price.

 

 3) O’Leary Walker ‘Polish Hill River’ Riesling 2013, Clare Valley

OLW Polish Hill Riesling

Produced using organically grown fruit from the picturesque Polish Hll River sub district of the Clare Valley. This is a delightfully seamless white wine with good backbone and aromas of honey blossom, lime and a mineral delicacy. the palate is very fine and long and drinks like a tight Sancerre.

Notes From Wine School Week 2 Australia

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Australia spent millions of dollars to build a brand around Shiraz –Australia’s word for Syrah. However, despite the success, Australian wines have suffered in the people’s minds, often disregarded as “Critter Wines” –referring to the cute animal designs that adorn wine labels. It’s time to dig deeper than the bottom shelf at the supermarket and find out what Australia wine regions are all about. There’s more to Australian wine than Yellow Tail and Little Penguin.

What is Australia Known For?

As you might guess, Australia’s main vineyard produce is Shiraz followed by Chardonnay. The two varieties make up 44% of the total wine production. What the production totals don’t say is that Australia is trying to diversify with plantings of Tempranillo, Sangiovese and others on the rise.

Top Australia Wine Regions

South Australia

Adelaide is the hub of the largest wine growing region in Australia. A few miles from Adelaide is Barossa Valley, South Australia’s most prestigious growing area. The region is unique because of its isolation from the rest of the world. Phylloxera hasn’t yet infected vineyard soils in Barossa, which means its home to some of the oldest living vineyards in the world.

What to seek out from South Australia

Old Vine Shiraz is definitely top notch, it’s both smoky and rich with spice. Keep your eyes peeled for red blends called GSM: Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre –The major blending grapes used in French Southern Rhone wines. Barossa Valley is flanked by 2 famous regions for white wine. Clare Valley produces some of the richest Riesling in Australia and some excellent Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. The Eden Valley is known for its very minerally and dry Rieslings. Not forgetting Adelaide Hills home to some of Australia’s best Sauvignon Blanc, and also very impressive Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

New South Wales

The major production in New South Wales comes from the inland Big Rivers Zone. This area has historically produced much of the commercial Chardonnay and Shiraz from Australia. However, New South Wales is also home to the up and coming cool climate areas such as Orange and Mudgee producing great crisp whites and elegant smooth reds, as well as the Famous Hunter Valley with its stunning Semillon & Shiraz.

Victoria

Commercial winemaking in North West Victoria makes up the majority of wine production in the entire region. However, the growing areas of interest are cooler and closer to Melbourne such as Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley, both producing great Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Western Australia

Some of Australia’s top producers can be found south of Perth in Western Australia in a region called Margaret River. Where they produce elegant reds based on Cabernet and voluptuous white based on Chardonnay and Semillon.

Around The World Trip Week 1 New South Wales

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ImageWho hasn’t had a bottle of Australian wine? Any decent wine section I a super market or spar has Aussie wines in Stock! But thankfully we’ve noticed a movement away from the dull boring mainstream brands that have been mass producing boring yet drinkable wines (not just in Australia mind you!!). Armed with our new grown up palates we have been searching for different not necessarily exotic wines. This has led to a regionalisation movement in Australia; this is nothing new in wine and certainly not new in Australia. However before this the focus was on brand Australia now it’s on regions like Barossa, Clare and Margaret River.

If you though Australia was all Shiraz and Chardonnay then your better think again there are about 75 grapes varieties grown there and roughly split 50% 50%. Over the next month I will introduce the some of our favourite regions and wines from Oz.

First up the state of New South Wales, where many Irish land. Hunter Valley (near Sydney) is NSW’s most famous wine region, the first commercial chardonnay was produced here in the 70s, but now it plays second fiddle to the outstanding Hunter Semillon. Just to the south from Hunter up in the Central ranges is Mudgee (meaning Nest in the Hills in Aboriginal) which produces great Shiraz and Bordeaux reds. Other regions include Cowra, Hilltops, and bubbly-savvy Tumbarumba, but it is High Altitude Orange that is on everybody’s lips.

Orange was once a well-kept secret in the wine industry, with only a handful of people aware of the regions potential. Even though there are still only a dozen or so wineries, it is NSW and arguably Australia’s most exciting region. Sloping hillsides at high altitude, 800m above sea level, and a cool continental climate make this a great spot to ripen perfect Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and even Pinot Noir. Find out more about Orange here and Logan our favourite winery there here. And check out some of Peter’s wines on offer this month here.

Pick up some Pinot

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Pinot Noir is sometimes regarded as the most highly prized wine in the world, but why? It’s not as rich or big as Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz; in fact it’s the opposite. Pinot Noir wines are pale in colour and their flavours are very subtle. The grape itself is difficult to grow and suffers from many  problems in the vineyard. Despite the difficulty in growing the grape, prices for a bottle of Pinot Noir are generally more than a similar quality red wine.  In terms of food combinations it is the ultimate on wine fits all; Pinot Noir is light enough for salmon but complex enough to hold up to some richer meat including duck.

Pinot Noir doesn’t grow very well in Australia due to the heat, it is a grape variety that loves cooler climates think of its home in Burgundy in France. It is however thriving in areas where its sister Chardonnay thrives, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra in Victoria, Orange in New South Wales, Adelaide Hills in South Australia and Tasmania . Expect sweeter fruit notes leaning towards blueberry and even blackberry but in a spicy-gamey tinge similar to New Zealand in the aroma.

1)      Weemala Pinot Noir 2011 Orange, New South Wales 17.95

This Pinot is made using fruit from Orange, providing a supple, fruit driven wine that is mouth-watering and addictive. Cool climate fruit imbues this Pinot with alluring perfumed aromas of cherry, cinnamon and dried herb. Classic varietal Pinot flavour and structure with cherries, red berries and a savoury complexity. Head straight to Chinatown and order a duck to pair with this delicious wine.

2)      O’Leary Walker Pinot Noir 2009 Adelaide Hills, South Australia 17.95

We love this funky and often forgotten wine, the boys at O’Leary Walker make so many damn good wines! Gamey, dark berry plum, with hints of sappy juicy pinot fruit explode out of the glass when [poured. Complex, supported with subtle oak influence. The palate oozes silky, long, balanced acid and fine-grained tannin. Once you try this you’ll be hooked.

3)      Dalrymple Pinot Noir 2011, Pipers River Tasmania 39.95

The wine has a vibrant ruby colour, with lifted sweet summer plums aroma, hints of cherry confiture, Chinese 5 spice and complexed with subtle savoury note. It has sweet summer fruits on the palate with nicely structured fresh acidity and silky tannins which in time delivers a savoury complexity typical of these sites. A style that is approachable now, decant one hour before serving. Although will reward with careful cellaring for the next 5-8 years.

Ramblings on Riesling

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Along with Chardonnay, Riesling is considered to be one of the finest white grapes in the world, producing a whole range of styles from bone dry to lusciously sweet. The best wines are incredibly long-lived, elegant and racy. They become increasingly complex with age. Riesling originated in Germany where, along with neighbouring Alsace, some of its greatest wines are still made. It is also hugely popular in Australia and Washington.

Interestingly, there is more Riesling planted in Australia than in France. Much of it was cultivated by Silesian settlers to South Australia. Subsequently, Riesling has become the go-to wine of the Clare and Eden Valleys with many old ungrafted vineyards. Names such as Pewsey Vale, Petaluma, Grosset and our very own O’Leary Walker resonate among those seeking a mineral edge to their dry white wine. These Rieslings retain acidity due to cool night-time temperatures, while exhibiting aromas of lime and citrus marmalade, with age. Riesling also performs admirably in other cool climate regions of Australia. These include the delicately fine Rieslings of Freycinet in Tasmania, and crisp tight styles of Orange.

1)      Weemala Riesling 2012 Orange, New South Wales €17.95

Peter Logan’s Weemala range goes from strength to strength. This Riesling is an exciting indicator of what the Orange region is capable of and if you’ve not boarded the Riesling train, you should definitely get a ticket, as this variety is going places. It shows lifted aromas of orange blossom and citrus while the palate rewards with a burst of apple and lime, a touch of sweetness culminating with zesty acidity. It’s a perfect candidate for fresh seafood or spicy Asian Cuisine.

2)      O’Leary Walker Polish Hill Riesling 2009 Clare Valley, South Australia €19.95

Slate subsoil and local terroir combine to produce a wine with more finesse less fullness at the front palate tighter in youth with varied scents from mineral to citrus pith steely palate texture with natural restraint and dry crispness and building along the tongue to reach its peak at the back. Will grow in the bottle with a lemon citrus intensity.

3)      Seven Hill St. Francis Xavier Riesling 2012 Clare Valley, South Australia €29.95

The 2012 St Francis Xavier is a wonderful expression of pristine Riesling, coming as it does from a vintage widely regarded as one of the best in the past decade in the Clare Valley. The St Francis Xavier Riesling exemplifies the variety’s great purity and elegance with its floral style and delicate citrus character. (The winery is owned by the Jesuits and the wine is named for St Francis Xavier, one of the first companions of the Jesuits’ founder, St Ignatius.)

Australian Chardonnay is getting Cooler

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Chardonnay is a really flexible variety,  growing almost everywhere it’s planted. And for years it was trendy, with its particular tendency to enjoy the kiss of oak, and become big buttery over ripe monsters. Then the tide turned and suddenly all Chardonnay was tarred as bad, (except Chablis and other white Burgundies, they always escapes by not mentioning grape variety on their labels). But as with all fashions Chardonnay is on the way back up, its getting Cool again, and in more ways than one.

In Australia, these days the oak is applied more evenly and more justly, more sensibly but the standout wines are coming from cooler climates such as Adelaide Hills, Eden Valley, Margaret River, Mornington, Orange and even Tasmania. It is making a comeback and making an argument for itself as the queen of Aussie whites.  ‘Burgundian-style’ Chardonnays full of verve and energy can be found from many producers.

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The Fab Five

1) Apple Tree Flat Chardonnay 2011 Central Ranges, New South Wales €13.99

This delightful Chardonnay is packed with aromas of pear and lemon with a nicely structured palate of white peach, cashew and fig before leading into a persistent finish. It’s perfect everyday drinking at an affordable price.

2) O’Leary Walker Chardonnay 2010 Adelaide Hills, South Australia €19.95

This wine displays delicate stone fruit characters of white peach and nectarine, with subtle grapefruit aromas. Fine yet powerful with great fruit weight, intensity of flavours, richness and oak texture. Clean with finely balanced acid. The most Burgundian of the wines listed here.

3)Logan Chardonnay 2011 Orange, New South Wales €19.95

With Peter Logan’s it’s all in the detail. It starts with the wine, premium fruit picked at high altitudes in Orange, meticulously handled by Pete. Putting the cool back into cool climate this Chardonnay is perfumed with orange, pear and a touch of spicy oak. The flavours of peach and grapefruit vie for attention complexed by minerals. Textured and long it would pair brilliantly with rich, seafood dishes.

4) Hill Smith Estate Chardonnay 2010 Eden Valley, South Australia €19.95

On the nose, smoky wild yeast complexity and subtle notes of struck flint intertwine with aromas of white nectarine, grilled cashews and citrus blossom. Full flavoured and textural on the palate, with creamy white nougat, citrus zest and ripe quince and melon flavours. The richness is held in check by a restrained grapefruit acidity and a savoury finish.

5) Dalrymple Chardonnay 2011 Pipers River, Tasmania €36.95

A delicate Chablis styled Chardonnay. Brilliant very pale straw colour with slight greenish tinge around the edges and watery hue. The nose displays aromas of melon and spiced lemon and lime peel richness. Light to medium weight the palate exhibits elegant lemon confit with a spicy freshness drives through a clean fresh palate complexed with chalked, crushed stone texture. Finishing with a clean crisp finish.

 

Return of the Shiraz

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If there is one red variety Australia does, it’s Shiraz, but to often all Aussie Shiraz is tar with the same brush – big alcoholic fruit bombs. Part  of the reason we love Shiraz comes down to its vibrant fruity notes dark and red berries and plummy notes, it is general voluptuous and smooth with the wines on the cheaper end offering much more sweet fruit notes.  But is simply note a one size fits all variety. The variety produces various different styles depending on the region it is grown in the most famous two being Barossa and McLaren Vale. But it also inspires in  wines from many other regions where the climates vary extraordinarily and hence the styles do as well – think cool climate like NSW’s Orange and SA’s Adelaide Hills.

Generally speaking here’s what to expect

  • Barossa is big and bold flavours and body.
  • McLaren Vale  tends to a bit lighter with earthy and mocha notes.
  • Clare Valley tends to berry flavours with hints of Mint and Eucalyptus and again a medium to full style.
  • Orange is a beacon for producing cool climate wines of finesse and elegance in an old world style. Rich plum, and dark berries with pepper notes.
  • Adelaide hills another cool climate district that produces refined Shiraz with red berry flavours and cracked pepper notes.

But these are so general to be easily ignored, as  the individual wine makers look to craft unique interpretation of their own.

Three to try

Shiraz

1) O’Leary Walker Shiraz 2010 €19.95

A blend of 70% Clare Valley Fruit with 30 % McLaren Vale. Showing blueberries and blackberries of Clare with a little under one-third McLaren Vale Shiraz to rev it up. Mocha, dark fruits and oak on a firm palate, fine tannin profile promises this wine will age gracefully.

2) Logan Shiraz 2009 €21.95

Hailing from the cool Orange region. The Logan 2009 Shiraz is a deep but bright red colour. The intensely perfumed aroma has mixed berries, white pepper, dried woody herbs and Chinese 5 spice characters. The medium bodied palate has flavours of red berries, plums and tarragon before a long spicy finish.

3) Yalumba ‘Galway Vintage’ Shiraz 2011 €17.95

This Shiraz shows all the hallmarks of a traditional Barossa Red. It has a bright colour with crimson hues. There are aromas of mulberries, ground spice and liquorice all sorts that speak of its varietal and regional origins. The palate is ripe and generous with flavours of mulberries, dark chocolate and hints of beetroot. It finishes with cocoa powder like tannins that give evenness and generosity to the wine.