Australian Wine Notes

Martin Field 2006-01-31T23:31:54+00:000000005431200601 Wine

by Martin Field

Syrah – Return of the cultural cringe
Australian winemakers have a long history of cultural cringing – that is, using European, mainly French names for their wines. Most finally stopped this pathetic practice after being dragged into the late twentieth century by litigation and international trade treaties.

But a few winemakers have short memories – a stroll through retail liquor aisles will reveal the increasing usage on Australian labels of the Frenchified term syrah (Ooh bloody la la) instead of the good ol’ Aussie shiraz. Consumers beware, Australian wines labelled syrah will undoubtedly carry a premium price. Wine marketing tosseurs (tossers in Australian) have a lot to answer for.

Must be the season of wood
Doncha just love Americanese? When we were in the Napa Valley in November we noticed that back label writers over there avoid the use of down market terms such as ‘aged in new and one year old barriques.’ They prefer the more refined ‘aged in new and seasoned oak barriques.’ Bit like advertising for pre-loved cars really.

Red Hill Estate Blanc de Noirs 2001 – up to $26
Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. A white bubbly made from the black grapes pinot noir and pinot meunier – hence the name. As you might expect this pale wine has a faint blush – from minimal skin contact. The bouquet reminds me of a kitchen where you have just taken a loaf from the oven and you have a saucepan of raspberry conserve bubbling away on top of the stove: mouth watering. The palate is refreshingly light with flavours of strawberry shortcake leading to a mid-dry finish. Delicious.

Kirrihill Estates Sauvignon Blanc 2005 – up to $18
Adelaide Hills, South Australia. Ripe aromas of dried pears and tropical fruits on the nose. In the mouth lychees and pineapple flavours feature and are supported by mild acidity. Ideal current drinking.

Rutherglen Estates Marsanne2005 – around $18
Rutherglen, Victoria. A complex nose of citrus and French vanillin oak. Unexpectedly full and rich on the palate showing mature fruit with upfront oakiness. Would go well with pasta entrées.

Lindemans Bin 0581 Hunter Valley Chardonnay 2005 – up to $20
Anyone talking classic Australian wines will recall the Lindemans bin numbered Hunter Valley wines of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. They used to make a wonderful non-botrytised semillon, a so-called Sauternes, which lasted for decades in the cellar. This wine is a wonderful melange of stone fruit, lemon, sweet understated oak and integrated acid that leaves you licking your lips and demanding another glass.

Stonier Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2004 – $23
Pleasing nose dominated by maraschino cherry notes. A fine expression of pinot noir grapiness, strawberries, cherries, a tad of leafiness and beautiful cutting acidity. One for the main course at dinner.

Mount Avoca Merlot 2001 – $20
This bottle had one of those corks with membrane at each end designed to separate the wine from the cork and thereby preclude the possibility of cork taint. Unfortunately the wine had snuck past the membrane and had leaked through to the other end. Fortunately the wine was not corked. It shows pleasant blackberry fruit on the nose with a hint of perfume reminiscent of eucalypt. A medium-weighted style showing warm climate berries with a savoury edge, drying tannins and firmness at the finish.

Hanging Rock Rowbottoms Shiraz 2003 – up to$33
Heathcote, Victoria. Deep purple to black hues. Dusty inky nose. Too young to drink yet – full of boisterous juicy grapes, astringent tannins and forward acidity. All these elements though are in proper proportion and will reward keeping for up to eight years. If you must try it now serve with well-seasoned, full-flavoured main dishes.

Baileys 1920s Block Shiraz 2003 – up to $35
Glenrowan, Victoria. Mulberries, dustiness and anise on the nose. Full-on plummy fruit features in this mouth-filling style. On the palate there is more liquorice allsorts anise, plus grippy tannins and fruit concentration that lasts and lasts. Will drink well to 2011.

“Australian Wine Notes”

  1. Erich Perkins :

    I recently moved and came across 2 bottles of a 1982 Sauternes produced by De Bortoli. Its color has darkened over time to a rich golden hue. Can anyone tell me how I could sell this at a fair price. I had a full case and this was a wonderful wine, I just would like to see if it has any value.
    Thanks Erich

  2. Martin Field :

    Though not a true Sauternes the 1982 De Bortoli is one of the greatest sweet whites (semillon grapes) ever produced in Australia. currently lists a half bottle at $US75.