Taste of Australian Wine
By Gavin Trott
red wines, or as they used to be known in Australia - Sparkling
Burgundies, are a particular love of mine. I’m not
sure about the US experience, but many in Australia were turned
off these wines due to drinking light red concoctions tasting
like sweet lolly water sold here in the 1960’s and 1970’s
with names like “Cold Duck”.
tasted like a blend of cough mixture and boiled lollies and
have put a generation off what are very traditional Australian
wine styles that are indeed world class.
are we talking about with Sparkling red wines from Australia?
Well, we are talking about quality red wines made in the same
way as Champagne
- that is, bottle fermented, aged on lees, then liqueured and
left to develop in the bottle. However, instead of using Chardonnay
and Pinot as the base wines, they use quality red wines.
exist elsewhere in the world, notably in the Burgundy
regions of France, but not in any quantity, or with the same
quality. Only here in Australia do these tend to be taken seriously,
indeed they are very much in fashion currently, and the range
and variety are now truly exceptional.
should you expect from these wines?
|Sparking reds should be served cool, but not overly chilled....
Well, imagine tilting an empty glass and pouring ... down the
side runs a frothy liquid, vivid purple in color with violet
and purple froth. Roaring out of the glass comes the smell of
blackcurrants, blackberries, chocolate, cherries, strawberries
You finish pouring and slowly the froth settles into
purple red wine with a steady mousse. Another sniff now shows
hints of oak, sweet fruit and firm acid. Try some .... powerful
fruit, dry yet seeming sweet, some acid and tannin on the finish
as the flavours run over your tongue, berries, mushroom, spice,
cherries and more. Makes me thirsty just writing about it!
are these wines made from?
Well these days just about anything red. Most, and I think the
best, are made from Shiraz. All that chocolate and rich smoky
blackberry fruit just seems to suit the wine style. At one extreme
we have the almost impossibly rare Rockford Black Shiraz. In
the early days at least this wine started off life as a quality
10 year old Barossa Shiraz before Rocky took to it with the
fizz. Also try the Rumball which uses 100% Coonawarra Shiraz,
or the Leasingham, using the same Clare Shiraz as their classy
table wines do.
are making this wine from Cabernet too, notably Yalumba, and
most successful it is too, lighter in style than the Shiraz,
but not light. After this we have some beautiful Sparkling Merlot,
notably the Irvine. One or two make a sparkling Pinot Noir like
McWilliams and then we have the something different wines, Tatachilla
make a brightly coloured Sparkling Malbec and D'Arenberg have
just released their Sparkling Chambourcin.
do we drink these wines?
These Sparkling Shiraz wines should be served slightly chilled.
Naturally this depends on the conditions. If its summer and
you want them with a barbeque for example, 30 – 40 minutes
in the refrigerator helps them, it stops them seeming flabby
and over alcoholic. However, if its mid winter then room temperature
will do fine. In short, don’t overchill, or serve warm.
do we drink these wines with?
Well, they are fantastic with your favorite pizza, served slightly
chilled. They also drink wonderfully with Turkey particularly
the sparkling Cabernet, and naturally also for barbeques where
they hold their own. Added to this are any of the meat dishes
that Shiraz style wines go with.
If you like experimenting, then try them also
with duck, char grilled tuna, or in fact, most meats char grilled.
The lighter styles also make excellent aperitifs particularly
on colder nights.
sparkling red wines should I try?
Hardys Sparkling Shiraz
Mt Prior Sparkling Durif
Tatachilla Sparkling Malbec
Rockford Black Shiraz
Charles Melton Sparkling Shiraz
Leasingham Classic Clare
Irvine Sparkling Merlot
Henrys Drive Sparkling Shiraz
Gavin is the manager of the Australian Wine Centre (a large collection of affordable, rare and
cult Australian wines) and hosts the very popular Auswine Forum (An online discussion forum about Australian wine)