Australia has well earned reputation for big, bold red wines, but there is much more to this country’s production regions, namely, South Australia’s Barossa Valley, Eden Vale, McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, Coonawara, Victoria’s Yarra Valley, Tasmania, and Western Australia.
A peak behind the curtain of “The Great and Powerful wines” reveals a vivid array of red and white wine styles from diverse regions.
Barossa Valley in South Australia just north of Adelaide is best known for big, boisterous, flavour-packed wines bursting with succulent dark fruit, velvety texture, chocolaty flavours and high alcohol levels.
Situated some 80 kilometres of the South Australian coast, Barossa is blessed with sunny valleys, and a steady growing season. While syrah takes a peppery spice field berry characters in its ancestral home in France’s Rhone valley, Barossa’s version of this noble grape is all about intensity. The warm climate and ability of its winemakers coaxes out deep colour, plush texture, and deep fruit flavours. Vines are old, well maintained, yield kept low, the fruit is hand picked, and handled with respect.
There are many well-established wineries, alongside with those more modern and they all follow newly developed principles and flavour preferences.
Here are a few brands well-worth trying Trumps Shiraz, 2006, Charles Cimiky $ 24.95, Command Single Vineyard Shiraz, 2006, Elderton $ 89.95; Blackwell Shiraz, 2008, St. Hallett $ 29.95.
Coonawara south of Adelaide with its trademark terra rossa (red soil) is best known for its smooth and deeply flavoured cabernet sauvignon and merlot blends thereof. Coonawara enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate that yields grapes with fine acidity and well-balanced wines.
Wynn’s Coonawara Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, $ 24.95; Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Penley Estate $ 59.95; Nick Faldo Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008,
$ 19.95 are gently spicy, smooth-textured, with ripe cassis flavours and earthy tones.
In Western Australia, Margaret River region produces fine cabernet/merlot blends. The region looks much like Bordeaux but is also home to kangaroos and palms. The climate is Mediterranean with a long growing season that is a little warmer than Bordeaux despite its location at the same latitude south of the equator.
The wines of Western Australia are cellar-worthy brimming with bright berry fruit backed by powerful structure, often showing cedar notes and mineral overtones.
Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008, Xanadu ( $ 19.95); Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, 2007, Stella Bella ($24.95), Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004, Evans and Tate ($ 25.95) are highly recommended.
McLaren vale south and west of Adelaide, produces remarkable white and red wines. Limestone, ironstone, loam and clay soils impart fine flavour nuances to the wines made with shiraz, grenache, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot.
All McLaren wines are easygoing and approachable displaying fully ripe fruit aromas and flavours.
The Procrastinator, 2008, by Wits End winery ($ 17.95); Churchblock (merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and shiraz blend(by Wirra Wirra ($19.95); Mary Kathleen Reserve Cabernetémerlot, 2007, by Coriole ($ 37.95) are recommended.
Yarra Valley close to Melbourne is famous for its chardonnay and pinot wines; it is one of Australia’s cools spots temperature-wise. It`s also one of the hottest for tourism. Rolling hillsides and sun-swept peaks make for gorgeous wine country.
Pinot noir is perhaps the most difficult and finicky grape variety to grow, but it thrives on the sandy or loam soils of Yarra Valley, yielding ripe and generous grapes showcasing savoury berry aromas, earth flavours and silky tannins.
Pinot Noir, 2008, Little Yering ($14.95); Pinot Nor 2009, Sticks ($ 19.95); and Pinot Noir, 2008, Coldstream Hills ($29.95) are only a few that are available in Ontario at Vintages.
The Hunter Valley, just north of Sydney, Tasmania, and many other regions produce fine wines
Unfortunately, most wineries are very small and happily sell their wines at the farm gate. Only a few are now beginning to make efforts to export.