Those of you with long memories might recall that months ago my clumsiness got the better of me at a Wines of Australia tasting. Within minutes of arriving I broke my phone and I later left my tasting notes on the train. I promised to bring you some Australian wines another time; this is that time.
The most widely planted varieties in Australia are shiraz, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and merlot, which account for almost 70 per cent of the vines; but there has been a steady increase in the planting of alternative grape varieties, especially those traditionally from Italy, Spain and Portugal.
Here’s five different Australian wines
Chalmers Vermentino Heathcote 2016 (RRP £17.50, greatwesternwine.co.uk, qwines.co.uk, thefinewinecompany.co.uk, 12% abv) The Chalmers family was one of the first to plant alternative varieties and is at the forefront of developing them even further. Chalmers produced the first Australian vermentino in 2004 and I’m glad they did. The grapes for this white are grown in the Heathcote Vineyard on the famous red Cambrian soils of the area in Victoria. It is has a clean, fresh, floral nose with hints of lemon, and to taste it has stone fruits, citrus, apple, and an interesting delicate creaminess.
Berton Vineyards Moscato Frizzante Metal Label 2015 (£10.50, or £9.50 if you buy two or more, at wine.next.co.uk, or £31.47 for three at Amazon, 7% abv) This is such a pretty white, sweet and delicate with a slight fizz that tickles the palate. It would be a perfect outdoor wine for sunny days, to enjoy with a bowl of sorbet, a fruit flan, or on its own. It has aromas of lychee, orange blossom and a hint of ginger, and a mystery of musky perfume.
De Bortoli Deen Vat Riverina Durif 2014 (£7.99, brayvalleywines.co.uk, 14.5% abv) The durif grape is also known as petite syrah and this red wine is deep and intense, not quite brooding, but getting there. The wine has aromas of plums, bramble fruits and liquorice with chocolate teasing in the background. Those same notes can be found when you taste it. It is a rich and autumnal wine for colder days.
Australia Felix Swan Hill Victoria Shiraz-Sagrantino 2016 (£8.95, thewinesociety.com, 14% abv) An easy-drinking red, but complex too. Picture the scene. My nephew-in-law in the rain tending his day-long slow-barbecued ribs and a wonderful beef brisket; me and my niece watching him from the warm and sipping this wine. When the spicy, barbecued, fall-apart meat was served, this wine was a perfect match. It has blackberry and plum notes, a flash of spice, a chirrup of cherry, and an edge of savoury.
First Drop The Big Blind Nebbiolo Barbera 2012 (RRP £20.99, oldbutcherswinecellar.co.uk, shop.vinoteca.co.uk, thesecretcellar.co.uk and others, 14% abv) We also had a glass of this with the brisket and crunchy oven-baked potato slithers, pecked with pepper and salt. The nebbiola (65%) and barbera wines were aged in oak, some French new oak too, and matured on the lees for 15 months before blended. The wine has a sweet spice on the nose, which mingled with the barbecue spices; there’s vanilla, with a playfulness of mocha; it is a wow of red fruit and cherry.
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