Sunday, July 17, 2011

Australia’s "new wine" is not Shiraz? So what is it?


"I’ve written several times about Australia’s continuing wine crisis. It seems like everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. Too much heat, too little water, excess capacity, collapsing demand — even smoke-tainted grapes caused by runaway brush fires. Yikes!" Mike Veseth - The Wine Economist

We all know it has been a difficult journey for the Australians, specially here in the US, where the demand for Shiraz collapsed in recent years. So... I was wondering... what are the other great things that they have to offer to a market that is always looking for "The Next Big Thing". 

Here are few options offered by James Halliday.
  • Fine sparkling wines from Tasmania and the coolest parts of southern Victoria and Adelaide Hills
  • Unique unoaked long-lived Semillon from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, and - more international - partially barrel-fermented Semillon Sauvignon Blanc blends from the Adelaide Hills and Margaret River
  • Chardonnay ranging from flinty, minerally Chablis-like wine from the coolest regions southern Victoria and Tasmania moving through degrees of richness until the Montrachet-like wines of the best Margaret River producers
  • Pinot noir from Tasmania, southern Victoria (from the Yarra Valley mainly) and (less consistently perhaps) the Adelaide Hills, which is consistently and wrongly assumed to be inferior of that of New Zealand, Oregon and Burgundy
  • Cabernet Sauvignon flourishes in many places, none more than Coonawarra, with its Bordeaux climate and - just to confuse things - a limestone-based soil similar to that of Burgundy and Champagne, producing fluid, seamless, cassis, mulberry and blackcurrant wines; Great Southern's Cabernet Sauvignon with imposing dark berry fruit, great structure, but seldom rough or tannic; the multi-faceted, extremely complex Cabernet of Margaret River, typically with some Merlot as a blend (or bed) mate; Langhorne Creek's supple, sotto voce wine in contrast to the masculine, sometimes macho, Cabernets of the Clare Valley, McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley (listed in descending order); the raw power of Central Victoria contrasting with the finesse of regions such as the Yarra Valley.
  • Riesling is the most important white grape (and wine) of the Eden Valley, developing strong lime juice and floral aromas, and with great intensity of flavors (lime zest, lime juice) on the palate, ultimately allied with touches of lightly browned toast as the wines age. The wines are mineral, steely and elegant
In case you are a believer that Shiraz is still the king... you maybe right... and here is why:
  • Shiraz is made in Australia in a magic enticing array of flavors, texture, weight, alcohol and tannins, with a startling ability to reflect the terroir from which it comes, ranging from the majestic power of the Barossa and Clare Valleys, and McLaren Valle in South Australia in South Australia, to the equally majestic yet very different lusciousness of Central Victoria, with Heathcote in the vanguard; thence to the continental climates (cool nights, warm days) of the Great Southern, and the Central Ranges of New South Wales, where spice, pepper and liquorice start to come alongside the rich blackberry, plum, leather, dark chocolate and earth of the warmer, less continental climates; and finally to the coolest regions (other than Tasmania, simply too cool) where viognier fits seamlessly in a glove of intense black fruits, liquorice, black pepper and spice 


    I don't like at all the "I don't drink Merlot" talk. As I can't stand the "I don't drink Australia" attitude that is going on here in the US now. You should give yourself a chance to try  the wide variety of good (sometimes great) wines (sparkling, reds, rosés and whites)  that are produced there. I'm sure you will find something you love...
    Cheers,
    LA



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