For some years Australian growers and winemakers have been leading the world with trialling new varieties, taking varieties that were almost facing extinction or had been pushed out of favouritism in their own native country and trying their Aussie hand at them. A lot of these have been varieties that our winemakers have gone onto use extremely well and that have created outstanding, individual and expressive wines. Look at Yalumba for example, just over a few decades ago the white variety Viognier was only ever blended into Shiraz to add aromatics, or produced as a high end (high value) French wine known as Condrieu. Yalumba changed all that by producing their multi-award winning Virgilius, a straight viognier not a blend, with the 2014 vintage taking a whopping 96pts from Halliday.
Over the past ten or fifteen years there have been many new varieties that have appeared on the Australian landscape, wines such as Pinot Gris/Grigio (its the same grape a red one at that), Petit Verdot, Kerner, Tempranillo or Sangiovese for example. And in the same time Sauvignon Blanc has taken a special place in the hearts of consumers, going from a low selling style that was imported from NZ, to being one of the highest selling wines in Australia, with new plantings of the variety going in the ground nearly monthly. And it doesn’t seem that long ago that no-one had even heard of Prosecco, with some drinkers now being able to point out why it’s their preferred bubbly
This time of the year is perfect for pushing yourself outside of your comfort box and trying new varieties of wines that are appearing on bottleshop shelves. It’s still warm enough to enjoy a Kerner or a crisp Vermintino, a Tempranillo is a great red to try when it’s spent a little time in the fridge to come down just off our FNQ room temperature. There are some cracking examples of Grüner Veltliner around, and if you’ve never tried a Gamay this time of the year works well when as it’s at its best when slightly chilled, not something you look for in a red during the winter months.
The Australian wine landscape is always evolving and changing, and it’s not unreasonable to expect that one of the newer styles will end up being as popular as Sauv Blanc is now.
Here’s a couple to look for, some will be at the major bottleshops others at good independents only, but all will introduce to new excellent styles of wines:
Coriole Nero 2016 – Coriole have been making their Nero d’Avola since 2012, with the wine becoming commercially available in 2013, in this time they have learned how to create a beautiful wine from a variety that is originally from Sicily. It’s hard not to like this wine, chocolate, spice a light hazelnut-iness and just the lightest trace of aniseed in there. Has a great savoury approach in there, with a long finish. This is probably at its best as a young wine but will carry well for the next few years if you want to put some away, works well now but will be at its best during the cooler months.
Robinvale Demeter Kerner 2008 – Kerner is a variety that has been cross bred from Riesling and another obscure grape, Trollinger (or Schiava as its also known), producing wines that are quite like Riesling in its flavour profiles and ability to age. This showed some great aged notes, but the fruit was still so perfectly fresh on the tongue, still zippy and a lively acidity to it that makes it a joy to drink. Limes and tropicals on the tongue, honeysuckle and fresh apricots with just a touch of sweetness in there. Nice wine, and a proven ability to age well, with their museum release 2002 Kerner still carrying well in the bottle.
Longview KÜHL 2016 – Grüner Veltliner from Longview’s own estate plantings in Adelaide Hills, this is their second release from a grape that’s a cross of Traminer and an unknown second parent, its predominantly grown in Austria, and what was Czechoslovakia. This has got interesting spicy notes that the 2015 didn’t have. There’s white pepper with a wisp of smoke and grapefruit and crunchy apple and perhaps celery on the tongue. Probably not a white wine for the cooler months, but it’s perfect around now coming straight out of the fridge and into the glass.
West Cape Howe Tempranillo 2015 – Tempranillo has been floating around for a while now on our shelves, with some cracking examples appearing one year and then not the next, Gavin Berry and his team at West Cape Howe have shown they can take a Spanish grape and give it an aussie twist quite well, and do it consistently. I love the oak handling and tannin structure of this wine, dusty old dry tannins, with perfect savoury fruit flavours. Those dry tannins are a perfect match for food. Not only a perfect wine for our warmer months when you take it slightly below our FNQ room temp, but also working well in our winter months coming straight out of your pantry.
Pizzini Arneis 2016 – Pizzini have made a name for themselves growing Italian varieties on their King Valley estate in Victoria. Until recently Arneis was only found in Northern Italy, and Pizzini have knocked out a fun wine with the style. It’s full bodied and aromatic, floral and tastes of stone fruits and pears, higher in acidity than some of the other whites out there, well balanced wine that is best drunk young. Super easy to drink on a summers arvo.
Te Mata Gamay Noir 2016 – gamay is the red grape used to make, most notably, Beaujolais from France. This particular style comes from across the ditch from the Te Mata estate in Hawkes Bay. It’s a really easy drinking, light style of wine that is at its best during our warmer months as it needs to be chilled, but not cold. Its got red fruits and touches of dried herbs with this lovely creamy feel in the mouth. Probably won’t win too many awards but it’s not created to, it’s made as a simple fun to drink wine, and that’s where it ticks all the boxes.
Hoddles Creek Pinot Gris 2016 – it wasn’t too long ago that no-one had heard of pinot gris/grigio and now it’s nearly on every wine list. Hoddles Creek have created a remarkable wine here essentially by treating it like a red wine, giving it some time with skin and stem contact. It’s given the wine a pink hue and a fine tannin structure that you don’t expect. Subtle notes of pear and red apple with just the faintest touch of musk, it’s complex on the tongue and will be perfect drinking year round.