A year and a half after visiting Australia for the first time, it looks like I’m still looking for the same thing – a boy from Oz! Yes, I like my wines from Australia to possess a big, bold, almost masculine quality about them. During an Australian wine dinner last week, I was pleased as punch with several of the big red options we tasted. Like most wines I love from Australia, they had developed big fruit, big alcohol, and big values in the bottle. However, the other wines at the dinner left me yearning for a couple options I really enjoyed during my Oz experience. So this week, I’m passing along a couple recommendations from the wine dinner put on by The Corkscrew and its restaurant partner Indigo last week while also sharing a couple other wine options from my own time in Oz to put on your ‘to do list’.
Australia is a big country in the world of wine. About the same size as the U.S., Oz is the fourth largest exporter of wine in the world. As you can see by this map, most of the wine (and Aussie population for that matter) comes from the southeast of Australia. Sydney is in the state of New South Wales, and the closest wine-producing region to that metropolis is the Hunter Valley, which produces solid whites. The most renowned wine-producing region in Australia, though, is the Barossa Valley near Adelaide in South Australia, which is also home to the McLaren Vale wine-producing region. They primarily produce big reds, including my first wine love, Shiraz. As you may know, I also love dessert wines, and some of my favorite ’stickies’, as the Aussies call them, come from the Rutherglen area of Victoria, which is also home to Melbourne. So if you are traveling to Australia and want to visit a wine region, keep these areas in mind to best maximize your time in this big country.
At the wine dinner, the Shiraz options were calling my name. For only $20 per bottle, Small Gully’s “The Formula” 2007 was noted as a bestseller at The Corkscrew, and I could see why it is such a favorite! This Cab-Shiraz blend combined the fruit bomb people love in Shiraz with the dry, elegant finish and acidity often associated with Cabernet Sauvignon. We ate it with coffee-braised lamb shank confit with roasted veggies. It was a fantastic food and wine pairing!
I also loved the Shinas “The Guilty” Shiraz 2008. Filled with dark red fruits and possessing a juicy finish, the Guilty was the tasting winner of my group at the wine dinner. At the end of the dinner, we did a mini-tasting of the Boxhead Shiraz 2010 for $15 per bottle versus The Guilty for $30 and the Noon Eclipse for $90 per bottle. Obviously, I enjoyed the Noon option, but for the money, “The Guilty” just proved its case to us! Why spend $90 when you can spend $30 for a similarly enjoyable experience? Call me frugal, but it was a no brainer in favor of “The Guilty”. You can get it for an even cheaper price here.
My favorite white wine experience while in Australia last year was Verdehlo. Not to be confused with Verdejo, Verdehlo offers an aromatic, full, fruity (tropical fruits and limes), and refreshing experience in the glass. I think Verdehlo is a great alternative for those of us who get bored easily with Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. A few weeks ago, I purchased my first Verdehlo in the States from Aussie producer Woop Woop. (What is with these Aussie names, I know!?!) The Corkscrew offers the 2009 Woop Woop Verdehlo for $12 per bottle. Or if you can’t visit me soon, try buying it here to stock up for your white wine drinking needs this summer!
Perhaps Indigo knew how much I’d been cheating on my diet recently when they skipped dessert, but I really missed my dessert wine at last week’s wine dinner. If you are looking for dessert wine, check out the Rutherglen area for Muscat-based stickies. Last summer, I particularly enjoyed R.L. Buller & Sons Fine Muscat from that area. The nose exuded a floral perfume and grape fruit flavors (interestingly enough, Muscat is one of the few grapes that actually exudes ‘grapiness’). This Muscat’s full mouth feel and honey on the palate would taste great with apple pie, in my opinion. I can’t wait to try it again! You can get it here for less than $20 per half bottle.
The Wandering Wine Girl