WineWriting.com & French Mediterranean Wine
Richard Mark James' wine and travel blog

12 April 2017

Classic Australia?

This pick of Australian 'wines of the moment' might challenge your perception of what could be perceived as 'classic'. Or maybe not; but they do show there are plenty more interesting Aus wines out there, usually from lesser-known and more 'distinctive' sub-regions and/or using quirkier winemaking, that stand out from the shelf-filling brands (even if one of them is)... (Updated 22/04/17).

Limestone Coast Chardonnay 2015 'Exquisite Collection', South Australia (14% abv) - Makes a literally refreshing change to find an oak-free Oz Chardy, this one is nevertheless full-bodied and oily textured with lots of ripe citrus, peach and melon fruit, but nicely balanced and good value too. €8.69 Aldi Ireland / £5.79 UK.

Campbell's Rutherglen Muscat 'Liqueur Wine', Victoria (17.5% abv) - 'Classic' in some ways (and Rutherglen is a demarcated wine zone), as in a very old-fashioned time-honoured Oz style, but hardly in the sense that most people would recognise, it takes a little courage to try it (especially as the price will inevitably limit its appeal). Made from late-picked Muscat grapes and aged for many years in a 'solera' type cask-maturation process (blend of different years). This is a superbly luscious and complex dessert wine with raisins, cooked marmalade and tangy roast walnut/pecan nut flavours. Try with blue, unpasteurized matured or goats' cheeses, fresh black coffee or drizzle a bit over plain vanilla ice cream. £14.99 half-bottle Grange Wines, Holywood and other good wine shops. Photo from campbellswines.com.au.

Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Peter Gambetta, Margaret River, Western Australia (14.5% abv) - Offers a fair bit of class and depth for the money, with more restrained blackcurrant and plum flavours, light coconut oak spice and nicely textured tannins. Tesco £10.

Frankland River Shiraz 2014 Ferngrove Vineyards, Western Australia (aged in French oak) - Closed up to start, fairly dense and textured, quite subtle actually but definitely with Shiraz-esque peppery fruit; needs a little air to open up and some BBQ-ed food maybe. £11 Marks & Spencer.

Jacob's Creek Sparkling Shiraz Dry Cuvée, South Eastern Australia - Fun frothy red, a bit strange at first if you've not tried it before but very nice in the end; off-dry finish I'd say. £10 Sainsbury's.

The Gum Vineyard Shiraz 2015 The Lane, Adelaide Hills, South Australia (aged in French oak) - Another more restrained style, spicy berry fruit with good depth and structured finish. Quite expensive although sometimes on offer: M&S £15.

Barossa Petit Verdot 2013 Chateau Tanunda, South Australia (13.5% abv, 18 months in French oak) - Deep coloured still for its age, spicy with ripe red pepper and cassis/damson followed by savoury and roast coffee hints, nice chunky texture yet maturing/softening too. Good with Cantonese duck in black pepper sauce. £10 M&S.

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