When did you last try a bottle of Australian wine? For some of you, maybe today, but for others maybe quite a while. People find favorite countries or types of grape and stay with that for a while. Sometimes it is nice to break out of your pattern and retaste wines from other countries. It has been a while since I’ve really sat down and systematically tasted through some Australian wines. I was glad to get an invitation from Wine Australia to sample nearly 200 wines from over 18 regions across Australia. Some wines I knew from the past, but many were new to me too. And one winery that I knew from my past work with the South World Wine Society in Vancouver, showed me again how good Australian wine can be. Which winery? Read on.
White Wine Picks
- Henry’s Drive Morse Code Chardonnay 2012 (BC $13.95) – Light citrus and smoke on the nose, with more smoky flavour and citrus on the palate. Medium body, round with spiciness on the finish. The smokiness is not overdone.
- Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling 2013 (BC $35) – Very light stone fruit nose. Medium minus body, dry, citrus and mineral flavours. Nice.
- Vasse Felix Chardonnay 2012 (BC $29.99) – One of the classiest wineries in Australia IMHO. Nice light citrus, melon and vanilla aromas in the glass. Medium body, dry, with round mouth feel. Sweet spices, citrus and apple. A little heavy on the oak, but maybe would open up a bit more if the wine had more time to breathe.
McGuigan S Series Semillon Blanc 2012 (BC $14.99) – Light stone fruit and baby powder aromas. Medium body, dry and round. Citrus and mineral on the palate with a hint of jalapeno pepper. I really like this wine alot. It’s very elegant and think it would make a great wine for the patio this summer.
- Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (BC $30) – One of the premium producers out of Australia. This wine has nice aromas of gooseberry and citrus. Light body with bright acidity. Citrus with a herbal edge on the palate, and some spice on the finish. Another nice summer sipper.
Red Wine Picks
- d’Arenberg The Custodian Grenache 2009 (BC $24) – Burnt tire (in a good way) and cherry aromas. Mineral with flowers (roses) and red cherries followed by spice. Tasty.
- Schild Estate Shiraz 2011 (BC $29.99) – Bright cherry, purple fruit and capsicum on the nose. Dark fruit, capsicum and dark chocolate up front on the palate followed with black pepper. Soft tannins. An interesting wine.
- d’Arenberg The Laughing Magpie Shiraz Viognier 2008 (BC $29) – Ripe purple fruit nose. Medium plus body, with ripe black fruit and a whiff of flowers. Soft and round in the mouth. Higher acidity. Some drying tannins on the finish.
Mount Pleasant Philip Shiraz 2011 (BC $21.99) – Nice restrained purple fruit nose. Full body, medium mouth feel, dry with cassis flavours. What makes this wine interesting is where in Australia it is from: the Hunter Valley, which is a cooler climate region that is best known for Semillon.
- Cape Barren Native Goose Shiraz 2012 (BC $23) – Dark extracted ruby colour in the glass. Nice ripe black berries and vanilla aromas. Mineral, medium body with cassis and purple fruit flavours (Lots of fruit flavour). Soft tannins. Some oak and sweet vanilla.
- Chapel Hill Bush Vine Grenache 2010 (BC $29.99) -Nice nose with aromas of cherries, kirsch and caramel. Medium plus body, dry, with light tannins. Roses and cherries on the palate, with spice on the finish. A really nice wine. I have tasted previous vintages of this wine and I get consistent quality.
My Favourite Winery at the Tasting
My favourite winery for this tasting was Thorn-Clarke Wines. Their line up was red wines only, but they all were made very well. One thing that I noted about their wines is that they were not overly dark and extracted. There was nice acidity to balance out the fruit, and each wine did taste different. Sometimes some wines that are over extracted taste too similar to other wines, so you do not get the unique character of each wine.
- Thorn-Clarke Shotfire Shiraz 2010 (BC $26.99) – Light intensity, dark fruit nose. Medium body, mineral, with both red and black fruit flavours. Dry with soft tannins.
- Thorn-Clarke Shotfire Quartage 2010 (BC $26.99) – Apples and ripe black fruit on the nose, not overpowering. Ripe black fruit, nutmeg and some minerality. Soft tannins.
- Thorn-Clarke William Randell Shiraz 2010 (BC $59.99) – This is produced only in the best years; 5 or 6 releases every 10 years. Light purple fruit nose. Medium body, dry with medium tannins. Ripe cherries and plums with tannic kick in the finish.
Crikey, all this Aussie lingo you have to learn sometimes. What’s a chook? It’s a chicken of course! We had a chook pie and a few other savory pies to try with our wines from the Aussie Pie Guy food truck. The pies are a bit bigger than a single bite, but maybe 3-4 bites. Served warm, they were really nice to eat along with the wines.