Fans of Aussie hooch rejoice, the focus has once again returned to the Land Down Under (“Where women glow and men plunder “). If you have been looking for a new selection from the Merry Old Land of Oz then your prayers have been answered. At a recent launch party for 43 new Aussie wines in Toronto, the LCBO, Australian winemakers and winery principals introduced their new products onto the market … what this all means is that the Great and Powerful Oz will once again be taking over the LCBO shelves, signage and anything else that can be nailed down (temporarily). The scuttlebutt that was whispered into my ear as to why the Aussies are attacking is that some 50 (or so) old favourites (those not selling as well) were cleared out to make room for some (hopefully) new favourites … and truthfully there really were some great selections to be had in this new crop of wines, from the sweet and jammy fruit bombs of yore, to the more subtle and elegant … at this tasting there was something for everyone.
I have always found that when it comes to the Land Down Under (“Where beer does flow and men chunder”), Australia, has always been better at wowing me with reds than they do with their whites … they have the heat and they have a plethora of good red grapes varieties that are sun worshippers (Shiraz, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon, just to name three). Whites tend to be more delicate and enjoy cooler temperatures – that is not to say that all whites out of Australia are blousy and lack acidity, they do make some excellent whites, as I am about to tell you, but I think it was best put to me by a former Aussie winemaker that came to work in Ontario … “It`s funny that I would come to love the natural acidity here in Ontario, because in Australia acidity comes in a bag and you learn to loath it because you have to carry it up all those stairs.” (to dump it into the tank of wine to raise the acidity levels and balance out the wine). But I found a few good examples of whites you`re going to love, if you find yourself on the white wine side (and in the summer we all seem to lean a little more that way):
De Bortoli 2009 Family Selection Traminer Riesling ($12.95 – # 207381) – lovely sweet fruit on the palate with nice aromas of perfume and pear … this is a nice summer bevy to have around, and at only thirteen bucks it seems like a steal. (*** 1/2)
Pikes 2009 Clare Hills Riesling ($14.95 – #215111) – Usually I am not a fan of Aussie Riesling, too much petrol at too young an age, and they usually have a higher alcohol and a thickness in the mouth that I find unappealing; but Pike seems to have come up with something very tasty here – this one is good, clean and light with peach and lime flavour along with some Bartlett pear on the finish. The best part is that from start to finish there seems to be lime throughout and that adds to the refreshment faster. (****)
Xanadu 2009 Next of Kin Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon ($14.95 – #212621) and Xanadu 2009 Next of Kin Chardonnay ($14.95 – # 212647) – Xanadu showed off a tri-fecta of wines (the other was a Shiraz) but far and away these were their best two. The Savvy B delivered lovely grapefruit notes on the palate and a grassiness on the finish; while the Chardonnay straddled the line nicely between the oak and the fruit with a touch of vanilla and some lovely baked apple notes. (Both wines *** 1/2)
Yabby Lake 2008 Cooralook Pinot Gris ($14.95 – #212712) – The grape, Pinot Gris, is enjoying its day in the sun and this Aussie version is very nice and will continue the world`s love affair with the variety. Honeysuckle, tropical, vanilla and because 30% of the wine was aged in oak it has some nice weight … a fairly serious Pinot Gris with style. (****)
Next Week: A Look at the New Aussie Reds