May merry month for Australian wine

May we be grateful

For reasons I’ve never fully understood, a couple of years (or possibly more) back, someone, some group, official body or whatever, thought there was a need to promote May as the month in which we are all grateful for Australian wines. As far as I can tell, the reason is that those overseas drops are seducing consumers away from honest Australian vinous offerings.

It’s hard to get the full figures for imports, as the Australian Bureau of Statistics has stopped collating them, but in reality they fall into three categories: New Zealand, Champagne and the rest. Take out NZ and Champagne and the rest amounts to bugger all.

But never let it be said TKR doesn’t rally to the flag. Below is a wide selection of wines from many regions in Australia. Apologies to Queensland and Tasmania, but I had no samples on hand. Also, NSW and Victoria are somewhat lacking. Sorry for the scrappiness, but I used wines I had and did not call for samples. The selection only has the vintage in common (2015), and there’s more red than white.

The idea is to show the incredible diversity of Australian wine. Yet the surface has only been scratched.

If you feel the need to stand and belt out Advance Australia Fair while enjoying a glass of local wine, there are plenty to choose from.

Victoria

Scotchmans Hill Bellarine Peninsula Sauvignon Blanc 2015: Lovely, soft sauvignon nose. Slight mineral characters on the palate. Acid remains low until about halfway, where it lifts the mineral characters while tart green fruits come into play. I didn’t have any but I wouldn’t have minded a dozen oysters to go with this wine. 94 points and value at $25.

NSW

Gartelmann ‘Sarah Elizabeth’ Hunter Valley Chardonnay 2015: Subtle but defined chardonnay nose. Tight structure that sits poised and pert at the front of the palate and moves slowly without giving much more as it travels. One can sense what is there, but it’s staying hidden, so a very mean 93 points now. However, I am sure there is more to come and $27 is fair value.

Western Australia

Mad Fish Western Australia Pinot Noir 2015: I’m not sure how kind I have been about this wine in the past, but I think this one stands out. It has all the characters of good PN. It’s lightweight compared to great PN, but it’s damn good in all departments for drinking this year. 94 points and great value at $18.

Byron & Harold ‘The Partners’ Great Southern 2015: On opening, this was rather dull on the nose and disjointed on the palate. This is no criticism; it’s a recommendation to either decant the wine or leave it to breathe for a while. Clean, blackcurrant nose. Lovely, bittersweet top notes, adequately supported with tannin and acid. Easy on the nose and easy on the palate, with enough points being caressed to make it one very smart wine. 95 points and worth $39.

Byron & Harold ‘The Partners’ Great Southern Shiraz 2015: Dark as midnight without the moon. Rich and elegant on entry and seductive as it travels. Beware: one glass will lead to another. 94 points and within bounds at $39.

South Australia

Hesketh ‘Twist of Fate’ South Australia Cabernet Sauvignon 2015: Deep ruby colour and a clean nose of wood (not oak). Easy on the palate from start to finish, enjoyable, 93 points and cracking value at just $14.

GMH ‘Family Selection’ South Australian Red Blend 2015: It’s red and blended rather well. 92 points and OK value at $20.

Kilikanoon ‘Golden Hillside’ Clare Valley Shiraz Cabernet 2015: Gorgeous nose. Couldn’t pin it but, being honest, I enjoyed it so much I didn’t try very hard. A gentle, soft, sexy outer layer encases a powerful core. Still some time to go but drinking fine now. 95 points and a top price but worth it at $45.

Zonte’s Footstep ‘Canto di Lago’ Fleurieu Peninsula Sangiovese Barbera Lagrein 2015: A fresh herb nose that is attractive and inviting to taste. Very lively in the mouth. A beautiful balance of sharper fruits with acid and tannin. Made in Australia, but not fully tasting of Australia. Fabulous wine, 94 points and great value at $25.

Bethany Barossa Semillon 2015: I have no doubt the Hunter is king region for Semillon, but there is on occasion something special about Barossa semillon. This is broad on the nose, the smells all pleasant enough, wafting around without any one dominating. Soft on entry, but it sharpens in the middle palate, where the acid comes into play. From middle to end it changes from gentle maiden to feisty. It’s only $20 and at that price I advise buying some to put away for next Christmas. a mean 92 now but more points will come.

Allegiance Wines ‘Winemakers Reserve’ Barossa Valley Shiraz 2015: The nose was just right: gentle black fruit aromas, with some sweeter notes and just the hint of mystery that was hard to pin down. It didn’t ring a peal of bells, nor set the spine tingling, but it did caress and cuddle. 94 points and a top price at $40 but not disappointing.

Norfolk Rise ‘Reserve’ Mount Benson Pinot Gris 2015: Pale but with an attractive green tinge. Very lively in the mouth, the acid batting the fruit around like a ping-pong ball. It’s still a touch sharp on the finish but that’s in tasting. Food helps so drink at the table. 93 points and an OK price at $25.

Norfolk Rise ‘Reserve’ Mount Benson Cabernet Sauvignon 2015: This wasn’t giving a great deal on the nose, but it’s clean. It’s tight across the palate and has a few sharp edges. Green would describe it, and I’m not sure it will develop a great deal. It did work better at the table. 92 points and there’s a lot of wine around at $25.

K1 by Geoff Hardy Adelaide Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2015: Cool climate and cool tasting wine, but it has attractive features that reveal themselves as it travels. 92 points and a heavy price at $45.

Zonte’s Footstep ‘Violet Beauregard’ Langhorne Creek Malbec 2015: Gorgeous nose: ripe plum with a faint hint of toffee. Rich, ripe flavours, but it’s not heavy. It’s bold brushstrokes, not fine line, but none the worse for being so. 93 points and worth $25.

Redman ‘The First Divide’ Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2015: There’s plenty of power to the wine, but it’s all over the place, with the tannins bitter and acid biting. It may settle but I’ll hold judgement for another year. 88 points and at the moment very pricey at $30.

Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards McLaren Vale Grenache 2015: Can a wine have a grown-up smell? Well, that’s what I’m going for here. It’s of the earth: feral, raw and gorgeous. The raw, wicked power rips across the palate, the pleasure tinged with the pain of ecstasy. Lovely wine. 94 now but I think more to come and value at $30.

Chalk Hill McLaren Vale Grenache Tempranillo 2015: Plum fruit nose, with a bramble earthy undertone. On the palate it’s juicy fruit to start, but only briefly, as then the tannin/acid edge comes into play and it smartens up the be a wine much more together than the first sip implies. 93 points and worth the $25 asked.

Pertaringa ‘Rampart’ McLaren Vale Vintage Fortified 2015: Made from shiraz and grenache, this is a young ruby port-style wine. It’s not a great port, but it’s a very enjoyable youngster. 93 points and $40 is an OK price.

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