New and diverse wines at the 2017 ADT Tasting
Crowds at the 2017 ADT photo credit Steven Morris
New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania
The end of January saw the latest annual Australia Day Tasting. It was the largest one yet seen in London and over 1,000 wines were shown from 31 different wine regions. There is also increasing diversity in the style of wines being made and the grape varieties now being cultivated, with those from Italian origins increasing significantly.
Leading grapes we have come to expect were all well represented, as were the country’s most established producers. While well-established Australian favourites like Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay were shown in abundance, visitors could also experience wines made from Petit Manseng, Arneis, Fiano, Touriga Nacional, Lagrein and Durif among others. This review looks at some highlights from wineries and varieties readers for now may be less immediately familiar with.
Website links are included as well as UK importers and US importers where known. Wine searcher shopping links are also added for each winery if readers wish to delve further.
The second part of the blog next week will cover producers in South Australia and Western Australia.
The Gundog Estate (www.gundogestate.com.au), based in the Lower Hunter Valley produce a quite extensive range of small volume reds and whites and both Semillon and Shiraz in a number of guises are important. The 2015 ‘Wild Semillon’ offers both impressive citrus intensity and a rich texture. A proportion of the wine is fermented briefly on skins. The 2014 ‘Smoking Barrel’ Red comes from a combination of Syrah from sites in both the Hunter and Canberra regions. The wine is full of dark, complex, spicy black fruits.
UK Distributor:- Australia’s Best Kept Secrets/Awin Barratt Siegel (www.abswineagencies.co.uk)
Damian North at Journey Wines (www.journeywines.com.au) makes just two reds and a white. From Yarra Valley fruit sources come stylish and elegant 2015 Pinot Noir and finely crafted and restrained 2014 Chardonnay. The third wine is a 2014 Shiraz from Heathcote. This is a lighter more elegant style than others from the region. The 2014 weighs in at 13.5% alcohol. Careful trellising helps in moving the phenological cycle forward and harvesting at optimum ripeness but with well balanced sugar. It has impressive depth with a fresh, spicy edge.
UK Distributor:- Australia’s Best Kept Secrets/Awin Barratt Siegel.
Onannon (www.onannon.com.au) is a partnership of three friends, based on the Mornington Peninsula, where they vinify Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. They also make excellent Pinot Noir (2015) and Chardonnay (2015) from Gippsland. Pinot Noir is fully de-stemmed and vinified at medium to high temperature during fermentation with the wine offering richly textured red fruits and hints of plum. Chardonnay is barrel fermented and the malolactic fermentation blocked. 10 months in just one-fifth new wood provides a nice balance with a rich texture, citrus fruit intensity as well as a fresh edge.
UK Distributor:- Boutinot Wines (www.boutinot.com).
The Crittenden family are also based on the Mornington Peninsula. Garry Crittenden established his reputation well over two decades ago founding Dromana Estate, which nowadays produces far less exciting wines than under his early tenure. A diverse range is produced at Crittenden Estate (www.crittendenwines.com.au). Peninsula Pinot Noir (2015) and Chardonnay are both important. The winery also produces some excellent Italian and Spanish wine styles. 2015 ‘Los Hermanos Saludo al Txakoli’ coming from Petit Manseng is very much in the fresh and zesty green-fruited style of the Txakoli appellations in Spain’s northern coastal Basque regions. 2015 “Oggi” is a characterful blend of Fiano, Arneis and Vermentino.
UK Distributor:- Fields, Morris & Verdin (www.fmv.co.uk).
Rory Lane owner/winemaker at The Story Wines (www.thestory.com.au) has a small warehouse based winery operation in the suburbs of Melbourne and sources fruit from a number of growers. The Grampians is the main focus but he also works with vineyards in cool Henty, King Valley for Riesling and Heathcote for Grenache and Mourvèdre. 2016 Port Cambell Pinot Noir from Henty is in an elegant restrained red-fruited style, coming from a cool site just inland of the 12 Apostles. Rhône styles are the backbone of the small range. 2015 Marsanne Roussane Viognier from the Westgate Vineyard in the Grampians is in a richly textured, spicy, nutty, green-fruited style. It goes through the malolactic fermentation and is vinified and aged in older wood on lees. The spicy blackberry fruit and pepper scented 2014 Grampians Shiraz is sourced from a number of sites. Wild yeasts are used and a number of different fermentation vessels and techniques are employed. The top red here was the impressively concentrated and complex 2014 R Lane Vintners Grampian Syrah which also comes from the Westgate Vineyard. The yield for the wine was tiny, barely a ton and a half to the acre and the vines are now around 45 years old. Very classy stuff and bottled unfined and unfiltered.
UK Distributor:- Australia’s Best Kept Secrets/Awin Barratt Siegel
At Tolpuddle Vineyard (www.tolpuddlevineyard.com) in Southern Tasmania very finely crafted Chardonnay (2013) and Pinot Noir (2014) are made. Michael Hill-Smith and Martin Shaw who make wine in the Adelaide Hills under their well established Shaw and Smith label are both shareholders. The vineyard is named for the Tolpuddle Martyrs who were transported to Tasmania in the 1830s. The backbone of the wines are, well-aged vineyards planted in 1988 and with low vigour providing grapes of impressive depth and flavour. Chardonnay is tight and structured with a restrained creamy, subtle citrus intensity. The Pinot is loaded with red berry fruits and subtly balanced oak. Both should continue to evolve for five years or more.
UK Distributor:- Liberty Wines (www.libertywines.co.uk)
USA Distributor:- The Wine Bow Group (www.winebowgroup.com)