You know we all want to change the world, and wine making is one of those areas that has been undergoing a revolution to past wine making techniques recently. I attended a seminar on the past, present, and future of Australian wine making, and it was interesting to see changes that are going on in this country, but it can as well be seen in other countries, even Canada with our relatively recent wine making history.
About Australian Wine Making
Australia has been making wines for 180+ years, starting with planting of the first vines in the Hunter Valley in 1828. Fortified wines exported to the UK in the beginning, slowly lead to the modern wines that we know today. The seminar I attended briefly reviewed Australia’s wine history and the classic wine styles that you normally think of with Australian wine, followed by the evolution of style to something that fits with our current tastes, and finally to look to the revolution in wine making where some wine makers are willing to try things like producing natural wines in amphora.
Two examples of classic, or historical style wines are represented by: McGuigan Bin 9000 Semillon 2007 from the Hunter Valley and Hollick Ravenswood Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 from the Coonawarra in South Australia. Semillon and Cabernet Sauvignon are classic grapes grown in classic areas of Australia. Semillon has made its mark with its production in the Hunter Valley, where as a young wine it is quite tart and citrusy, but then given time to age, at least 5 years if not longer, the wine mellows and takes on an oaky character, which you would never expect. Cabernet Sauvignon does exceptionally well in the Terra Rossa (red soil) in a narrow strip of South Australia, known as the Coonawarra. This special strip of soil of red clay overlaying limestone produce wine with great fruit character, have a distinctive dusty tannins mouth feel, and can age for many years.
McGuigan Bin 9000 Semillon 2007 – A white wine with 9 years of age, it has a deep golden colour. Intense nose with a woody aroma together with petrol, aged citrus and a hint of peach. Medium body, dry with high acidity and an acidic prickle on the tongue. Flavours of buttered popcorn, citrus and petrol, with a peppery finish. Rating:
Hollick Ravenswood Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – Opaque garnet in the glass. Aromas of ripe apples, ripe dark fruit and plums. Medium plus body, round with a mineral edge. Plums, cherries, and whiffs of capsicum and tarriness on the nose. Drying, dusty medium plus tannins on the finish. Rating:
Picking two wines that represent evolution, I have Voyager Estate Chardonnay 2013 from Margaret River and Fowles Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Shiraz 2013, Strathbogie Ranges. I think in evolution, you are looking at lighter styled wines, e.g. not big heavily oaked Chardonnays of the past, or over extracted red wines that all start to taste very similar, losing some of their unique flavour profile.
Voyager Estate Chardonnay 2013 – A selection of different Chardonnay clones were selected for this wine to tone down the typical tropical fruit flavour that you can get with the Chardonnay grape. His wine is medium straw in colour. Medium intensity nose with a blend of topical fruit, citrus and oak aromas. Dry, medium minus body, with minerality. Flavours of pears and apples together with vanilla are up front followed by tropical fruits later own. Buttery texture with pepper and mouth-watering acidity and sweet spices on the finish. Rating:
Fowles Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Shiraz 2013 – Opaque garnet in colour. Smoky, grilled sausage, nutmeg and dark fruit aromas in the glass. Fuller bodied, dry and round, with flavours of grilled sausage, violets, blueberries and purple fruit. Higher level of acidity. Very nice. Rating:
Here we get into the use of one or more methods or types of grapes out of the usual range for Australian wine (or for wines right here in BC). The two wines that I pick from this category are the BK Wines Skin n’ Bones White 2015 from Adelaide Hills, and the Jauma Like Raindrops Grenache 2015 from McLaren Vale.
BK Wines Skin n’ Bones White 2015 – This wine is made with the Savagnin grape, which is little grown outside of the Jura region in France, where it is made into an oxidative wine named ‘vins jaunes’. This wine is not oxidative, but it is made with natural methods. It begins with a wild fermentation which included 30 days skin contact, then 9 months of battonage, and 1 year of aging in neutral oak barrels. This wine is very aromatic with notes of jasmine, honey and apricots. Medium minus body, dry with some minerality. Apricots and honey along with light spice. Light vanilla and lemon on the finish. A very elegant wine that totally captivated me. Rating: –
Jauma Like Raindrops Grenache 2015 – Jauma is an organic winery, and is run by James Erskine, who is an award-winning sommelier and wine judge, and is a rock climber! He is trained in soil chemistry, and this shows I think in his wines. He has a very eclectic website, but it does show the different soils of the vineyards. Grenache is one of those grapes that has not received the recognition it should get. It does not produce a big full-bodied wine like Cabernet Sauvignon, but it can make a very pretty lighter bodied wine with red fruit flavours and spice. This is a naturally produced wine; wild fermentation of whole clusters and 11 months in old barrels aging. This wine was medium translucent ruby in colour. Off-dry with sweet red fruit and flowers on the nose. Medium body with a light mouth feel. Very perfumed along with flavours of red cherries, and some spice on the finish. Medium tannins firm up on the finish as well. Rating:
This production of naturally produced wines, with minimal intervention is a growing trend around the world. I tasted some very interesting wines in the “Revolution” category and hope that we have chances to try more in the future here in Canada. As noted, there are natural BC wines produced by wineries such as Okanagan Crush Pad and Laughing Stock. So try out natural wines from near and far, and see how you like them, and how they are different from traditionally produced wines.
Don’t forget about the benchmark, traditional style wines as well. They have stood the test of time and offer a quality experience.