Three wines, of course, cannot comprehensively survey the diversity of a whole continent full of wine. But three wines can be a starting point for the exploration of Australian wine and highlight its diverse regions, grape varieties and styles. And possibly pique your interest in Australian wine. We received all three wines as tasting samples.
2017 Tyrrell’s Wines Semillon, Hunter Valley — pale yellow in the glass with with generous aromas of dried herbs, guava and oat hay. Flavors lead with crisp pears, tart pineapple, dried grass and citrus zest. The combination of tongue-tingling acidity and a bit of roundness give this wine an interesting mouthfeel. 11% abv. SRP $24.99
Tyrrell’s Semillon was harvested by hand, gently pressed and then fermented in stainless steel. Several months spent on the lees lends complexity.
A hint of grassiness makes you think you might be sipping Sauvignon Blanc, but the full body tends toward Semillon. This easy sipper is perfect for a warm afternoon, appetizers or a light meal.
- Region: Hunter Valley in New South Wales (north of Sydney). This hot and humid region is cooled by afternoon sea breezes. The valley was the first area planted to grapes in Australia in the early 1820s. It is know for Chardonnay, age worthy Semillon and Shiraz.
- Grape variety: Semillon
- Style: dry, white wine
2017 Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz, Barossa Valley — dense ruby in the glass with generous aromas of barrel toast, pie spice, cedar and dark-fruit compote. Flavors of ripe plums, crushed flower stems, cigar tobacco, caramel, vanilla and baking spices are supported by fairly smooth tannins. Juicy acidity and a medium+ body and medium finish make for a bold red wine with significant wood influence. 15% abv. SRP $24.99
This Shiraz is warming and flavorful. Pair this big, bold red wine with Korean short ribs, pulled pork or grilled steak.
The Shiraz is sourced from younger Torbreck Shiraz vineyards — the up and coming Shiraz vineyards of the Barossa — as the winery puts it.
- Region: Barossa Valley in South Australia near Adelaide. This is red wine country with Shiraz leading the way followed by Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache. Riesling, Chardonnay and Semillon are the top white varieties. The climate is mediterranean with ocean breezes.
- Grape variety: Shiraz
- Style: bold, ripe, red wine
Chambers Rosewood Vineyards NV Muscat, Rutherglen — translucent dark amber in the glass with generous aromas and flavors of dried figs, stewed prunes, raisins and caramel. The body is viscous and sweet with good acidity. The flavors last a long time and are warming. 18% abv. SRP $16/375ml bottle.
The winemaking involved in crafting this wine is as interesting as the flavors in the wine. Grapes remain on the vine into fall where they dry and become raisined, concentrating sugar with the loss of water in the grapes. The raisined grapes are picked, crushed and partially fermented before fortification. Wood aging takes place in a program similar to a solera aging system. The average age of this non-vintage Muscat is six to ten years. Chambers Rosewood Vineyards is known for their fortified wines in particular.
- Region: Rutherglen in Victoria has a continental climate with frosty spring temperatures and hot summers with cold nights. Known for fortified wines made using Muscat and big red wines using Shiraz.
- Grape Variety: Muscat a Petit Grains (also Brown Muscat)
- Style: fortified, sweet wine (called stickies in Australia)
I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief tour of Australian wine regions, grape varieties and wine styles. Stay tuned for one more Australian wine post ahead of Australia Day , January 26.