Australian Wine- South Australia, Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Margaret River

Australia is one of the largest wine producing countries; today it’s the fourth largest exporter in the world and the third largest exporter to the US (after France and Italy). Because of their association with what we in the business call “critter wines”, many times their wines are thought of as inferior; and although there are lots and lots of wines such as these produced in Australia, there are still some good-quality, serious wines coming from the country. This week we will explore six wines total, two whites and four reds, that exemplify varietal correctness, serious style as well as good value, and represent three of the most important wine producing regions in Australia; the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, and Margaret River.

The Barossa Valley is located in South Australia and is one of the oldest regions in the country. German settlers were actually the first to produce wine there, however it wasn’t until the 1980’s that family-owned, old-vine Shiraz producers began to capture international attention. The most important grape of the region is Shiraz, although Grenache, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Semillon, and Chardonnay are also widely planted there.

The McLaren Vale “has a Mediterranean climate with wet winters, dry summers and plenty of sunshine. The proximity to St Vincent Gulf, coincidentally named after the patron saint of winemakers, benefits fruit quality with warmer spring and autumn conditions and cooler summers. McLaren Vale is renowned as a premium wine region of great beauty that consistently produces high quality, richly flavoured wines.”

“The development of Margaret River as it exists today was largely due to Dr John S Gladstones. In 1965 Dr Gladstones emphasised the region’s suitability on his report “The Climate and Soils of Southern WA in relation to Vine Growing”, in which he said: “…it has distinct advantages over both those areas [Manjimup and Mt. Barker], and indeed over all other Australian vine districts with comparable temperature summations…” and Margaret River was born. Defined by the oceans, the Margaret River region enjoys a temperate, maritime climate with high winter rainfall and pristine, robust sea breezes to cool the precious fruit – wonderful conditions for growing superior Cabernet Sauvignon.”

We hope you will join us this Thursday night!

The specific wines for the tasting are:

Yalumba “Y Series” Viognier 2011– South Australia. Producer note- “Pale straw in colour, the 2011 Y Series Viognier has aromas of honeysuckle, poached quinces and mandarin peel so evocative of this exotic variety. The palate is rich in texture and body thanks to wild yeast fermentation and ageing on lees, yet retains a refreshing quality that make it a pleasure to drink. Flavours to be found on the palate include grapefruit peel, lemongrass and stonefruit, while the texture adds layers of fruit persistence.” Tasting $11.99

Schild Estate Chardonnay 2010– Barossa Valley. Producer note- “Sourced from low yielding vines located in the hills on the eastern edge of the Barossa Valley, the 2011 Schild Estate Barossa Chardonnay demonstrates what can be achieved with this variety by using fruit harvested from carefully selected parcels from the cooler portions of the Barossa. Fermented at low temperatures in stainless steel tanks in order to preserve the fresh fruit flavours, this wine is also supported by a complex structure and a rich, full flavour derived from techniques such as extended lees contact post fermentation rather than through the use of oak.” Tasting $13.99

Red Knot Cabernet Sauvignon 2010– McLaren Vale. A blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Shiraz. A straightforward nose of dark fruits such as plum and blackberry with spice hints and a suggestion of subtle oak. Its approachable scents of cinnamon/spice are followed by a rich and viscous palate with juicy berry fruit flavors. A friendly Cab with mild tannins on the finish. Producer note- “Deep red. Dark cherry conserve, cassis and cranberry fruit aromas along with hints of mint chocolate and roasted coffee lift from the glass. The richly structured, full-bodied palate is filled with ripe blackberry flavours and textured with velvety tannins and lingering French oak. Fresh acidity complements the long, sweet fruit finish, resulting in a wine with immediate appeal and varietal presence.” Zork closure. Tasting $10.99

Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2008– Margaret River. Matured for 13 months in American oak Hogsheads & Barriques (80%, 25% new oak), French oak Hogsheads & Barriques (20%, 1% new oak). Spiced oak and dark aromas of cedar, plum, and blackcurrant, with underlying notes of green pepper and spice. Rich red and black fruit flavors are nicely balanced with tangy acid and integrated tannins. A dry, bold and complex, although not overpowering, pure effort. Producer note- “The 2008 Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon is mid to full depth in colour, showing a purple-crimson hue. The nose displays fully ripened fruit with red berries, curry leaf, cassis and oak barrel spiciness. This wine is generous and inviting, opening to plush red fruits building to a full mid palate fleshiness then leading to a complex meld of fruit, briar and edgy tannins. This modern styled Cabernet and, though the palate sensations are long, they are refreshing.” Tasting $15.99

Schild Estate GMS 2010– Barossa Valley. A blend of 55% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre, and 20% Shiraz (from vines averaging 70 years) that aged in stainless steel. Deep, dark aromas of delicious baking spices and jammy ripe fruits meet robust spice, smoky hints, and a floral undertone. Sweet fruit flavors of blackberry and black cherry and a hint of cherry cola are followed by a juicy, spicy finish. Producer note- “Juicy red berry old vine Grenache fruit presents itself on the front palate whilst the Mourvedre and Shiraz provide structure, concentration and depth. Hints of white pepper, spice and depth are evident with a soft tannin framework ensuring a supple, soft texture to finish.” Tasting $13.99

First Drop Mother’s Milk Shiraz 2009– Barossa Valley. Dark fruit scents of perfumey blueberry and fabulous sweet berry fruit aromas are enhanced with kitchen spice. Good acid and firm tannin combine with flavors of ripe black fruits, spice, and smoked meat, within the full-bodied palate. An excellent value with depthful, complex flavors and excellent fruit concentration, followed by a long, mouth-coating finish. An impressive effort. Producer note- “Not a sledgehammer style, this Barossa Shiraz is made for drinking! Soft, slurpy and textured it is balanced with good acidity, which refreshes the palate and makes you go back for a second / third glass. Sourced from 3 unique vineyards, it is fruit laden, savoury and dangerously easy to drink! It is matured for 15 months in 100% old French oak hogsheads (3-4 years old) to allow the fruit to express itself.” Tasting $19.99

mm_label_thumb 06 Shiraz USA ART yalumba

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