Do you remember your first glass of Australian Chardonnay? Was it sunshine in a glass together with heaps of alcohol and oak flavouring?
At a recent Wines of Australia tasting entitled “History & Evolution” aimed at sommeliers here, the message was that Australia has many quality premium wines that are not homogenous; they offer much diversity and choice. Asia Pacific is the fastest growing export region for Australia. Although firmly in the New World, it has much winemaking history along with ancient soils and vines, and is evolving not only with regard to its wine styles but has moved into newer regions over the last 20-30 years. These regions offer their own sense of place, or terroir, as the French like to label it.
In the “History” flight of 5 wines we tasted a range of wines from classic grape varieties that have established a history of producing quality wines in terroirs we are very familiar with. Riesling from Clare Valley, Shiraz from Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale as well as Semillon from Hunter Valley and Muscat from Rutherglen.
So onto the “Evolution” flight of 5 wines; these were from the evolving regions that have developed their own sense of style and place. First up was a very elegant cool climate M3 Chardonnay 2013 from Shaw & Smith in the Adelaide Hills, an area known for producing delicate and fine Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, it was really fresh and aromatic with subtle stone fruit flavours and a delicious texture. Another Chardonnay followed, this time from De Bortoli in the Yarra Valley, an area currently producing very exciting white wines, some of which could rival white Burgundy, this Single Vineyard A5 Chardonnay 2012, was fresh and fruity, very smooth with great character as a result of some skin contact prior to fermentation. Both Chardonnays had spent some time in older French oak barrels together with lees stirring. As expected neither showed any overt oak characters, just enhanced textures and great complexity. The first red of the flight was a Stonier Reserve Pinot Noir 2012 from Mornington Peninsular, a maritime climate area south of Melbourne, this wine was in a lighter fruity style, made from older vines and exhibiting herbal notes and earthiness along with silky tannins. A second Pinot Noir, this time Red Bank, Sally’s Hill 2010 from the Pyrenees in Victoria, here the ranges are between 300-750m above sea level. Wines from the area tend to be more savoury and spicy in character something very much evident in this Pinot which also exhibited a darker fruit profile than the previous wine. Our final red came from the Grampians in Victoria, an equally remote area, cooler climate giving the wines higher natural acidity, the Mount Langi Ghiran Cliff Edge Shiraz 2013 was very drinkable, mid-weight for Shiraz with fruity and peppery flavours, no doubt a food-friendly wine.
Keep a look out here in KL for these new and elegant styles of wines.