Still easy to find top quality Australian wines

Neil Courtier
Neil Courtier
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The Australian wine industry has come through a bit of a tough time. Drought conditions and over-production, haven’t helped.

Hard to swallow andhard to believe after three decades or so of success in the UK, wine consumers are opting to consume bottles from elsewhere, but, are we missing a trick?

With a land mass of more than 7.5 million sq km, it’s not surprising that climates and topography are varied. Australia’s strengths lie in its regional identity and the grape varieties that thrive there, its diversity and the families who are the bedrock of a long, proud wine producing history. It’s really not that difficult to find Australian wines away from the big brands that have dominated the market at a similar price-point. Even the ‘own label’ category can throw-up a few surprises and what’s more – excellent value for money. There’s been a style shift too, with more emphasis on ‘cooler climate’ plantings and wines with better balance and subtle oak nuances, when barrels are used for fermentation and or maturation. Australia wines have quality and diversity in abundance.

ON THE SHELF

Tim Adams – Riesling 2014 Clare Valley, £9 Tesco – An Australian classic. Citrus aromatics of lime, lemon and grapefruit. The palate is dry and seamless, with moderate viscosity and brisk acidity. A brilliant aperitif, or enjoy with seafood. Riesling’s from Clare Valley are most enjoyable when young and zesty, or left to mature for at least 10 years.

Kangarilla Road – Chardonnay 2015 Adelaide Hills, £11.99 (mix 6 = £9.99) Majestic – A stunning combination of peaches and cream, with citrus-fruits, zesty freshness, finely judged oak – providing a touch of nuttiness and style. Try with chicken and ham pie, veal in a creamy sauce, or baked cod.

The Lane Vineyard – Block 2 – Pinot Gris 2015 Adelaide Hills, £13.95 Corney & Barrow (Newmarket) – Vineyards at 450m above sea level, planted on ancient gravel, limestone and red-clay soils, this is a very smart, distinctive Pinot Gris. Open and aromatic aromas – pear, ripe apple and slightly floral. Nervy and intense in the mouth, with peachy flavours, honeyed tones, underpinned with crisp acidity and minerality. Very good with sushi, mild spiced fish curry, or pork and ginger.

A.C. Byrne & Co – Shiraz 2014 McLaren Vale, £7.49 Aldi – Blackberry, morello cherry and spice on the nose, move on to a medium to full-bodied moth-feel, revealing more dark fruits, a hint of chocolate and peppery spice. Cracking value.

Asda – Extra Special – Pinot Noir 2015 Yarra Valley, £7.98 Asda – From the excellent De Bortoli stable, serve slightly chilled and dive into the juicy, raspberry toned fruit and accessible style that this Pinot Noir reveals.

La La Land – Tempranillo 2015 Murray Darling, £9.99 (mix 6 = £7.99) Majestic - Have a change from Rioja & check-out this funky Tempranillo from down-under, with its ‘New World’ ripeness of fruit, swayed in dark-plum like richness and flavours, liquorice and mocha. Enjoy with barbecued lamb chops, or chicken with Chorizo.

Mad Dog Wines – Shiraz 2013 Barossa Valley, £16.95 Corney & Barrow (Newmarket) – A deep, inky ruby red, with damson plums and spice on the nose, full-bodied, with super concentration and structure, blackberries, rich tannins and a really good finish. ‘Proper’ Shiraz, to try with a rib-eye steak with a pepper sauce.

-- Neil is a freelance wine educator and writer. He runs wine courses and tutored tastings for groups and individuals, in Bury and Cambridge. Call 01359 270318 or visit www.grapesense.com