From Australia via Canada and China

South China Morning Post, 29 October, Sarah Wong

Three standout wines from Australia’s Shaw + Smith

Cool-climate wines from Michael Hill Smith’s estate in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills are slowly evolving into a fine tipple. Full article and reviews

The West Australian, 28 October, Grace Millimaci

From the why-didn’t-I-think-of-that file comes the Wine Condom, which is proving a hit among those keen to protect their pinot grigio and avoid “unplanned wine spillage”. Full article 

The Australian, 29 October, James Halliday

Fiano player,

This Italian grape variety has the X-factor.

More than 130 grape varieties are being grown and made into wine in Australia and new varieties, usually called “alternatives”, are springing up every year; the most active and successful importer of new varieties is Kim Chalmers of Chalmers Wines. It’s all nerdy stuff because the average Australian wine consumer would be hard pressed to name more than 10 varieties and has little or no chance of recognising their respective tastes without the help of the label. Thus the odds against an obscure ancient white variety from Campania, southwest Italy, succeeding here when it had all but disappeared in Italy might have been longer than a three-legged horse winning the Melbourne Cup. Full article and reviews

Vancouver Sun, 28 October, Anthony Gismondi

You say Shiraz, I say Syrah

Re Australia: As you move south to warmer sites the grapes tend to broaden in flavour and texture on the palate. In Australia it can be the engine of many rich, almost sweet, blockbuster wines, especially in Barossa but when you take it to Heathcote in Victoria or to the terra rossa soils of Coonawarra or the Hunter Valley its more savoury underbelly is apparent.

Lindeman’s Bin 50 Shiraz 2015, South Eastern Australia 85/100: Earthy, licorice, black fruit nose with a touch of screw cap reduction, so give it some air by decanting or at least splashing it around in your glass. The attack is soft with balanced, jammy, blueberry fruit flavours ending with cocoa. Ready to drink — just fire up the barbecue.

Penfolds Shiraz Bin 128 2014, Coonawarra, South Australia, Australia 91/100: Always a slimmed down version of the richer, northern Shiraz, Bin 128 is Australian cool-climate. The fruit is grown on the famed terra rossa soils of Coonawarra, the source since the first release in 1962. Winemaker Peter Gago uses a mix of new and seasoned French oak hogsheads that appear more simpatico to Coonawarra fruit than American oak. Look for a spicy, resiny, herby, attractive, red fruit nose. Cherries and pomegranate speak to the cool nature of this classy wine styled by French oak. The finish is still somewhat tannic in the sense of dusty, chalky tannins that should dissipate through 2020. Pair with steak.

The Match: Persian lamb meatballs is all I need to hear to bring on the Shiraz

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia: Balanced smoky, black licorice and blueberries with enough persistence to take on the soup and the meatballs. Good value.

Yalumba Organic Shiraz, South Australia: Perfumed black fruits and bumbleberry [mixed berries] fruits with fresh black pepper makes this a lamb meatball slayer.

Manchester Confidential, 31 October,  Neil Sowerby

A major reason for our resurgent enthusiasm for Australian wines is Matthew Jukes, who champions them fiercely in his influential weekend Daily Mail column and, more specifically in his 100 Best Australian Wines Roadshow, now in its thirteenth year, which rolls into Manchester on Saturday, November 12. Full article

Regina Leader-Post, 31 October, James Romanow

Loxton brand wines are widely distributed in Western Canada. They’re an Australian company that has been on the market here for over 25 years, and have a wide lineup of near-wines that typically mimic the popularity of what’s in the liquor stores. I tried four of their wines with some success.

The biggest surprise and greatest success was Loxton Brut, a sparkling wine. As something of a Champagne snob, I didn’t expect much. The wine had strong pear and apple aromas and flavours. However, the tongue scrubbing bubbles of the drink work. Both Sairey and I think you could serve this to any number of consumers and they wouldn’t notice the substitution of Loxton Brut over most Prosecco or sparkling wine. The bead is finer and lasts longer than many Proseccos popular today. If I had a non-drinking guest, I’d offer them this one first.

Another solid choice would be the Loxton Moscato, a rose. This probably will suit most long-term non-drinkers best. Moscato in the current Australian version, is extremely sweet, often as sweet or sweeter than a cola. The Loxton Moscato isn’t quite that sweet, and it does have some of those pleasant aromatics that make wines from the Muscat grapes such excellent drinks. I have a hard time imagining anyone who will turn this one down.

The Semillon-Chardonnay from Loxton is another quite easy drinking near-wine. There’s some mineral in the bouquet, and the Semillon seems dominant to me. The texture is more apparently not-wine to me than in either the Brut or Moscato. However, I can see myself buying and enjoying this bottle occasionally. It isn’t calorie free but it is very low — all of the Loxton lineup come in at 33 per 150 mls. I found I preferred drinking it at room temperature. It has a pleasantly tart flavour that fills a gap that sodas or other carbonated beverages do not.

The only near-failure I’d point to in the Loxton lineup is their Cabernet Sauvignon. Before I condemn it, I have to add that this is without a doubt the best de-alk red I’ve ever had. The problem is that the complexity of good red wine, or even mediocre red wine is enough that somehow my palate feels hurt about this glassful. It’s as if it came sooooo close only to fail just before the finish line.

Regardless, if you’re looking for alternatives to the overly sweet palate found on grocery (and too many liquor store aisle) shelves these are drinks worth trying. You can find their wines in Safeway/Sobey’s and occasionally in liquor stores.

Wine of the Week: Loxton De-Alcoholized wines. $8

The Australian, 1 November, Max Allen

It’s a perennial problem. I come across some fabulous new wines that blow me away. I can’t wait to share my discoveries with you, dear reader. But then I find the wines in question are almost sold out — or were made in such tiny quantities that you will be unlikely ever to find them, let alone buy them and taste them for yourself.

See my conundrum? If I don’t tell you what I think about some of the most exciting wines in Australia then I’m not doing my job. But if I do tell you about them and you can’t try them, I run the risk of receiving irate emails from frustrated readers. Full article

The Star on Line (Kuala Lumpur), 1 November, Esther Chandran

Describing Australia’s Yarra Valley, De Bortoli Yarra Valley chief winemaker and manager Steve Webber said it was one of the most exciting regions known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

“The Single Vineyard Chardonnay is very classic in terms of style and is quite elegant and minerally,” said Webber who was in Kuala Lumpur recently to hold guided tasting seminars and a wine-pairing dinner at Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur. Full article

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