A Tiny Peek at Australia’s Wine Diversity
Australia is a huge wine producing country whose depth is apparent in both the assortment of varietals they can grow well as well as the styles they’re made in. For years our shores were inundated with mostly lower end Australian wines, often in the form of overripe Shiraz. As a result, the bounty from Australia is significantly broader than a lot of wine lovers realize. All across the Unites States a larger and larger swath of terrific Australian wines are filling our shelves. It’s a great time to try some interesting Australian wines; here are six recent releases that I recommend.
Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier 2012 Shiraz/Viognier — Composed of 95% Shiraz and 5% Viognier, this wine was produced from fruit sourced in Central Victoria and has a suggested retail price of $18. Violet aromas dominate the nose of this wine, though lighter notes emerge as well due to the lift the Viognier provides. Plums and raspberry flavors light up the nose along with hints of savory herbs. Smoked meat characteristics, earth, and plenty of spices are all part of the finish. This is a gorgeous example of Shiraz highlighted by the soft, lush, and velvety mouth feel. This proportionate wine is a steal at under $20.
Pillar Box 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon — This wine is entirely Cabernet Sauvignon from the Padthaway region. It was aged for 12 months, 30 percent of it in oak. A total of 4,500 cases were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $21.99. The heady nose is leads with leather and red plum aromas along with bits of cinnamon. Black cherry, continued plum, and ripe, juicy blackberry flavors are all in evidence through the full bodied palate. Kirsch liqueur, dark baker’s chocolate, black raspberry, and chicory all come out on the above average finish. This is a delicious, balanced Cabernet best suited to enjoy over the next 2-3 years.
Moss Wood Ribbon Vale 2011 Semillon / Sauvignon Blanc — This wine blends together Semillon (62%) and Sauvignon Blanc (38%) from the Margaret River region. Each variety is picked, pressed, and fermented separately, after which the blend is created. This Bordeaux-inspired blend has a suggested retail price of $27. Wisps of linseed oil emerge from the slightly pungent nose of this wine, and are then replaced by subtle citrus and tropical fruit aromas. From the very first sip, papaya and pear flavors are dominant and they’re supported by a solid core of minerals. The finish shows off tremendous length and remarkable depth with a mélange of citrus joined by limestone and white pepper. This is a crisp and refreshing wine with racy acidity. It’s delicious on its own, but will be stunning with lighter fare.
Flegenheimer 2012 Reserve Red — This red is produced from a combination of Shiraz (85%) and Petite Sirah (15%). All of the fruit is from the Mclaren Vale region. This wine spent sixteen months in barrels with 3 or more years of age on them and has a suggested retail price of $30. The berry-laden nose of this wine also shows off toasty oak, vanilla bean, and white pepper. A complex array of red and black raspberry, blackberry, and a boatload of plum flavors are on display throughout the full bodied, juicy, yet measured palate. A core of spices made up of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper play a supporting role. Savory herbs and earth are part of the above average finish. It has good structure and brooding depth. This is a wine perfectly suited to pair with black-pepper-encrusted prime rib.If you haven’t been drinking Australian wines of late, it’s time to dip your toe back in and try some of their gorgeous, well-made wines.
Glaetzer-Dixon 2012 ‘Avance' Pinot Noir — The fruit for this wine came entirely from Tasmania. In addition to Pinot Noir, a smidge of Pinot Gris was blended in. Aging took place in French oak over 7 months. This wine has a suggested retail price of $41. The Pinot shows off a darker hue than typical for the varietal. Cherry and leather aromas lead a big and welcoming nose. The palate is studded with oodles of black cherry as well as wisps of red plum and raspberry. Bits of green herb are present as well. Black tea, mushroom characteristics, minerals, and touches of earth are all present on the impressively persistent finish. This is quite simply an awesome expression of Pinot Noir that outclasses many others in this price range.
Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier 2011 Lieu Dit Malakoff Shiraz — This wine is entirely Shiraz from the Pyrenees region. Aging took place over 11 months in entirely French oak. This year is the tenth since the premiere vintage of this wine; it has a suggested retail price of $50. A heady mélange of dark fruit aromas is supported by gentle bits of toast on the alluring nose. The dark fruit characteristics continue through the palate where fresh and dry fruits abound; red and black raspberries are of particular note here. A compote of berry fruits comes together with a core of minerals, spice, and suggestions of smoked meat on the lengthy finish. This is a well-structured, balanced Shiraz with length, depth, and a super appealing array of flavors and aromas.
There is so much more that Australia has to offer. If you haven’t been drinking Australian wines of late, it’s time to dip your toe back in and try some of their gorgeous, well-made wines. If, on the other hand, you’re completely new to Australian wines, each of the six offerings listed above is a fine place to start. Pick the one that sounds most appealing and start your delicious adventure into the wines down under.