Wine Region of the Month: Australia

There’s a new wave of Australian wines and we are celebrating them this month. If, when you think of Australia, you imagine big, blockbuster wines, richly extracted, and at times a bit overwhelming, you are not alone. Perhaps for that reason, after years of success, Australian wines have dropped in popularity. Enter the new wave, winemakers who let the terroir come through by creating wines of greater finesse and balance. Time to try Australia again, for the very first time.

2013 Pewsey Vale Dry Riesling, $15.99

In the Hills surrounding the Barossa lies Pewsey Vale, Eden Valley's pioneer vineyard, and the hallowed home of Riesling. Its history can be traced back to 1847 when Joseph Gilber established his vineyard, pioneering high altitude, cool climate viticulture. This wine shows intense aromas of lemon lime fruit, with hints of overlaying dried herb and talcum. The palate offers great length and depth with limes, a hint of pineapple, white flowers and fresh rosemary. It finishes with a fresh natural acidity which balances the flavor intensity, and a minerality that will reward medium to long-term cellaring

2013 Tahbilk Marsanne. $15.99

As the Australian gold rush ended, two adventurers dreamed of creating liquid gold from the vine on the Goulburn river. This site, known as ‘tabilk tabilk’ to the Daung-wurrung people, was already part of Victorian history: Major Mitchell’s Line through Tahbilk became the first overland stock route and mail run between Sydney and the fledging Melbourne. Despite a mysterious shareholder death, the company formed in 1860 with new funds from the enterprising Bear brothers and advertisements for one million cuttings. The first vintage was in 1861, and within 20 years Tahbilk was the largest, most modern and successful winery in the colony, exporting to Europe and winning International awards.  This wine is,

The Aussie Marsanne by which others are judged, Unwooded and bare-bones, this Rhône white grape gives the gentlest honeysuckle/jasmine touch. It’s beautifully understated and extremely drinkable but built for age
— Jeni Port, The Age Epicure

2012 Thomas Goss Cabernet Sauvignon, $14.99

One of the original McLaren Vale pioneers, Thomas Goss, his wife Mary and their children arrived in South Australia from Devonshire in 1849. After success in the Victorian gold fields he established an iconic farming property in McLaren Vale which is now home to some of the region’s leading vineyards. This wine is a tribute to Thomas Goss’s contribution to the Vale. Made by Ben Riggs and his winemaking team, it displays the trademark Cabernet Sauvignon characters; rich and generously loaded with mulberries, black cherries and spice on the palate, the finish is long lasting, delicious, dense and fruit-packed. This wine will compliment a wide variety of meal choices, especially red meat or pasta dishes.   

2012 Paxton Shiraz Grenache, AAA, $17.99

Established in 1979, Paxton is a family owned McLaren Vale wine company. Founder and owner, David Paxton is one of Australia’s most highly respected viticulturalists – a reputation built on managing and growing wine grapes of exceptional quality for over 30 years. The AAA on the label pays homage to David's days in the wool trade and was stamped on the best grades of wool by the Guesser. It is a vibrant blend of approximately 62% Shiraz and 38% Grenache from some special little pockets amongst our vineyards. The Shiraz was selected from the ‘Gateway' and ‘Jones Block’ vineyards, renowned for producing some of the best fruit in the region. These select parcels were blended with complimentary Grenache to create a wine that is engaging to a wide range of drinkers. Our blend is fun, appealing and, unlike some members of the Paxton clan, not over the top.

2013 Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier Shiraz-Viognier, $18.99

Tony Terlato and his family have represented a wide range of wine producers from California to Italy. When Michel Chapoutier took charge of his family’s Rhône Valley estate in 1987, Terlato  marketed them in the U.S. The Terlato and Chapoutier partnership in Australia began in 1998 with the discovery of a top vineyard site in Central Victoria. The result of this collaboration is the Malakoff Vineyard, which produces beautiful, provocative wines that truly stand apart. A spicy Shiraz with a boost of Viognier for aroma and balance, this wine shows deep color and intense aromas of red and black berries, gingersnap and black pepper spice with a brooding cedar character that lingers on the finish. .

2012 Imprimata Grenache, $20.00 SALE PRICE

An imprimatur (from Latin, “let it be released”) is, in essence, a declaration, an endorsement. In what can be viewed as the ultimate endorsement of Australia’s viniferous strengths, Benjamin Hammerschlag has elected to establish roots in the country. Concurrent with his passion for seeking out Australia’s best wines, Hammerschlag began his quest for the perfect piece of property for his own wine in 2006. His search ended at one of the highest points in McLaren Vale in the sub-district of Seaview, known for producing fruit with a track record for the highest quality. Hammerschlag’s goal, naturally, has been to produce the best wine from this particular location. To do so, he is collaborating with winemaker Ben Glaetzer. This wine is 100% Grenache grown in the tough Ironstone laden hillside. The vines appear to float above the valley and the sea below, braving the winds off of the Southern Ocean and keeping yields achingly low. Stephen Tanze’s International Wine Cellar rated it 91 points, describing it as lush and silky with red berry aromas and flavors that finish long and silky. Regularly priced at $29.00.

2013 Jamsheed Harem La Syrah, $25.00

Ancient writings tell an endearing tale of Jamsheed,  a Persian king who was said to be able to see his kingdom in a cup of wine, and whose fondness for fresh grapes led him to store them in jars over winter where they would inevitably spontaneously ferment and be set aside as ‘poison’. One of King Jamsheed’s harem, despairing of frequent migraines, chooses to commit suicide by drinking from a poisoned jar. She wakes to find herself miraculously cured, informs her king who is most pleased and sets about making many jars of ‘poison’ and thus wine was discovered. The Jamsheed label began in 2003 with a focus on single vineyard Syrahs and aromatic whites from unique sites in Victoria. Australian wine writer Matthew Jukes said of Jamsheed:

This is winemaking at its most elemental and the wine tastes as raw and un-buggered-around-with as any I have seen. Drinking this wine is a gripping experience.
— Matthew Jukes, Australian Wine Writer