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Australian Wines


PCL
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I have searched the wine forum for discussions on Australian wines, and so far, they've always been about the odd selection or so.

On the eve of my first trip to California, where I plan to visit the Napa for a meal at Bouchon, I thought, hell, just ask the Gulleteers what they think! They usually answer.

So here goes:

What do you think of Aussie wines?

Do you have favourites (varietals/blends/regions/winemakers)?

To kick things off here's where my mind's at during this period of my life:

1. I think there is good variety, but there are things we do well, and things we don't do so well. For example, subtlety is something in my opinion, Australian winemakers are beginning to learn. For that, read: They have been travelling and tasting.

The days of the BIG WINES, ie Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz are coming to a close, their dominance being tempered by BIG BLENDS... but we are coming around to doing things differently, unfortunately, you pay more.

2. Currently, there isn't much touching my lips that isn't blended or of some weird obscure varietal that hasn't been much promoted/appreciated in this country. Cabernet Franc is good, Grenache is good, Cote du Rhone type blends (affectionately known as GSM's) are good. Marsanne can be good or awful. Sauvignon Blanc Semillon is good.

Some names of vineyards that are on my home wine list:

Charles Melton, Barossa Valley (GSM, Cabernet S)

Fox Creek, MacLaren Vale (Cabernet Shiraz)

Main Ridge, Mornington Peninsula (Pinot Noir)

Peter Lehman, Barossa Valley (Shiraz)

Gallagher Wines, Canberra (Cold weather Shiraz)

Wirra Wirra, MacLaren Vale (Cabernet Merlot Shiraz)

Thanks for reading, hope to read your thoughts in the near future!

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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I have been a fan of Australian bottlings, but resource limitations (e.g. rack space) and my preference for Pinot Noirs have resulted in my trimming down my Aussie acquisitions. Since much of the available production is still on the big wine side, I have restricted routine purchases to Penfolds Magill Estate and production from Greenock Creek (if you can find it, GC's Grenache has been very good).

Pinot Noir from Tasmania has been interesting as has been the odd Riesling I've come across; higher-end sparkling Shiraz has also been a conversation piece. Unfortunately, all three categories are difficult for me to obtain.

Speaking of blends, Shiraz/Viognier is starting to make the rounds (they're different).

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I have been a fan of Australian bottlings, but resource limitations (e.g. rack space) and my preference for Pinot Noirs have resulted in my trimming down my Aussie acquisitions. Since much of the available production is still on the big wine side, I have restricted routine purchases to Penfolds Magill Estate and production from Greenock Creek (if you can find it, GC's Grenache has been very good).

Pinot Noir from Tasmania has been interesting as has been the odd Riesling I've come across; higher-end sparkling Shiraz has also been a conversation piece. Unfortunately, all three categories are difficult for me to obtain.

Speaking of blends, Shiraz/Viognier is starting to make the rounds (they're different).

I'm only going to give you two stars and above but please remember just because a vineyard produces a great wine doesn't mean all are great

Moss Wood, Margaret River

Leeuwin Estate,Margaret River

Cullens, Margaret River

Cape Mentelle, Margaret River

Penfolds Wines, Barossa Valley

Mount Hurtle, Mclaren Vale

Katnook Estate, Coonwarra

Hollick Wines, Coonwarra

Elderton, Barossa Valley

Grant Burge, Barossa Valley

Jim Barry's Wines, Clare Valley

Virgin Hills Vineyard, Macedon

Tarrawarra, Yarra Valley

Morris Wines, Rutherglen

Coldstream Hills, Yarra Valley

Campbells Winery, Rutherglen

Baileys of Glenrowan, Glenrowan

Rosemount estate, Denman

Rothebury estate, lower hunter valley

Lindemans wines, Lower Hunter Valley

But in comparison I've been lucky enough to try a Bottle of Penfold Grange, yes it was a fantastic wine but just like the Great American Wines I find them over priced if you want to spend £180 on Grange I'd personally rather 2/3 bottles of Cos de Estournel it could be as simply as taste but unless you plow through the everyday wines which in comparison to the french seem to be far more consistent I find better bargains from some of the great chateaus in France I'm not saying that the Aussies or the Americans cant produce great wines I just think I can get better value for my money by avoiding them, yet in the same breath I would like to add that both off these countries are pushing the industry forward thats been held stagnant for too long by the french

Reckon your best regions around Australia seem to be the Coonwarra, Baroosa, Margaret Valley. As all wine regions you are only as good as your vineyard

Hope this helps

Perfection cant be gained, but it can be strived for :huh:

Perfection cant be reached, but it can be strived for!
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Well, grasshopper, I mean, PassionateChef, a couple points...

The French would be furious if you mis-spellt their regions so here goes:

It's COONAWARRA, BARROSA, MCLAREN VALE (yeah, even I screwed up and I call myself an Australian :raz:)

As for everyday Australian wines, in the UK, you simply don't get enough of them. Although, having said that, the Waitrose Cellars, and I've only seen one of those in the Canary Wharf London store... has a good selection of lesser known vineyards.

I don't find consistency to be a problem, just 'bigness'. Some producers are consistently bad, big, bold, etc.

The regions are pretty well summed up so far however, but I do have a problem with many Margaret River reds... too much tannin early on, and even with maturation, still too big.

Grange, well, there's a few out there and best to check the vintage and tasting notes before ripping the cork out. But the price of Grange in the UK is actually good value compared to what one pays for them in Australia... bullshit if you ask me.

The consistency of French product would appear to come from experience and knowledge of what goes with what, and how. Like I said earlier, we're just getting round to working our blends and learning to not just drink straight varietal expressions.

Edited by PCL (log)

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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... production from Greenock Creek (if you can find it, GC's Grenache has been very good).

Pinot Noir from Tasmania has been interesting as has been the odd Riesling I've come across; higher-end sparkling Shiraz has also been a conversation piece. Unfortunately, all three categories are difficult for me to obtain.

Speaking of blends, Shiraz/Viognier is starting to make the rounds (they're different).

Thanks for the Grenache tip!

Shiraz/Viognier is big now, and I'm learning. Not impressed by early ventures though. Too sweet? No names have made an impression yet, but then again, I have been known to be lazy.

As for Pinot Noir, you must try to get your hands on the following (Tasmania's up and coming but Victoria is the spiritual heart of Aussie Pinot Noir):

Main Ridge Estate, Mornington Peninsula

Stonier, Mornington

Bannockburn, Geelong

By Farr, Geelong

I'll search and see if any of them ship overseas direct from the cellar door. I know Main Ridge does (they're a lovely couple who own the place) and well worth it. Maybe some tasting notes to come too!

Cheers everyone so far! :rolleyes:

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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I'm only going to give you two stars and above but please remember just because a vineyard produces a great wine doesn't mean all are great

Nice dig, but somewhat patronizing, don't you think? :hmmm:

But in comparison I've been lucky enough to try a Bottle of Penfold Grange, yes it was a fantastic wine but just like the Great American Wines I find them over priced if you want to spend £180 on Grange I'd personally rather 2/3 bottles of Cos de Estournel

[snip!]

I have already drank wines from 19 of the 20 producers you list (Cape Mentelle has a really nice Zinfandel), but I like the Magill Estate and Greenock Creek bottlings better. Grange? Cos d'Estournel? Have them in verticals, but again, I like Hill of Grace and Pichon-Lalande better.

I'm not too sure about your statement that there's better value for money with European production probably because I suspect that transport and EU subsidies and trade tariffs go a long way to making non-EU production that much more costly. I can make a parallel case for the reverse, though my argument would be based more on the strength of the Euro versus the US or Canadian dollar.

I also believe that great terroir doesn't mean squat if the owners don't know what they're doing.

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One to avoid is Yellow Tail.  We were at a party and the cabernet was the red and the chardonay the white.  Can't really say which was worse.  The cabernet was so sweet....even thinking about it gives me the shudders

Yellow Tail appears to be the new party wine in Canada, and it's very popular with the people I know who don't drink wine. I've only tasted the Cab, and I'm very sorry for doing so.

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As for Pinot Noir, you must try to get your hands on the following (Tasmania's up and coming but Victoria is the spiritual heart of Aussie Pinot Noir):

Main Ridge Estate, Mornington Peninsula

Stonier, Mornington

Bannockburn, Geelong

By Farr, Geelong

I'll search and see if any of them ship overseas direct from the cellar door. I know Main Ridge does (they're a lovely couple who own the place) and well worth it. Maybe some tasting notes to come too!

I will look into Main Ridge immediately and check if my favorite shops in Calgary carry any of the others. Stefano Lubiana is the Tasmanian Pinot Noir I've been trying to source but all New World PNs have suddenly become hard to come by thanks to Sideways.

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I tend not to be an overly adventurous wine buyer.

Most of the wines I buy are in the $15-35 US range, most of them closer to $15. In general, I won't spend more than US $35 retail, unless it is a special occasion or a wine I particularly covet. Usually I find wines and winemakers I like and stick with them. For domestic producers I like the wines from folks like Navarro, Franus, Ed Meades, Greenwood Ridge, Joseph Swann etc. Small-ish producers who provide what I perceive as value and quality without a great deal of hype.

I haven't had a lot of luck with random selection of Australian wines, even with recommendations from wine stores or magazines. Part of it, I suppose, is the styles of wines I favor, like Sauvingon Blanc from the Loire (Sancerre!), steely Riesling and flowery Gewurz from the Anderson Valley, or briar-ey peppery Zinfandel from Napa, don't seem to be much in vogue in Australia. I also find the mutability of the Syrah, (or Shee-razz, as you folks like to say :raz:,) grape to be something of a barrier to my enjoying it. For some reason, I've never really felt I've gotten a handle on the essence of that grape as a varietal.

That said I've enjoyed dessert wines from Yalumba's Museum Series, "Port" from Hardy's, and recently a 2001 Shiraz from Ben's Run.

I would welcome any other recommendations of wines or wineries.

Erik

added some stuff

Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Yellow Tail has been around for about a year in my local stores, and yesterday I overcame my considerable suspicions and bought the Chardonnay. It was truly HORRIBLE - hot and bitter! I haven't tasted that type of Aust/NZ chardonnay for about a quarter of a century, and I didn't enjoy the memories it brought back at all!

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I'm only going to give you two stars and above but please remember just because a vineyard produces a great wine doesn't mean all are great

Nice dig, but somewhat patronizing, don't you think? :hmmm:

But in comparison I've been lucky enough to try a Bottle of Penfold Grange, yes it was a fantastic wine but just like the Great American Wines I find them over priced if you want to spend £180 on Grange I'd personally rather 2/3 bottles of Cos de Estournel

[snip!]

I have already drank wines from 19 of the 20 producers you list (Cape Mentelle has a really nice Zinfandel), but I like the Magill Estate and Greenock Creek bottlings better. Grange? Cos d'Estournel? Have them in verticals, but again, I like Hill of Grace and Pichon-Lalande better.

I'm not too sure about your statement that there's better value for money with European production probably because I suspect that transport and EU subsidies and trade tariffs go a long way to making non-EU production that much more costly. I can make a parallel case for the reverse, though my argument would be based more on the strength of the Euro versus the US or Canadian dollar.

I also believe that great terroir doesn't mean squat if the owners don't know what they're doing.

I'm guessing your saying that I need to taste them over several years I have to admit I was lucky and ended up with a good year of Cos D'estournel but cant say that on a chefs budget I'll ever be able to afford a vertical tasting, as for pricing from my experience all I'm saying is that a mediocre year off a good American/Australia is about the same or more than a fantastic 2nd class wine, though got to admit still very new to the whole wine industry, I'd agree with your terroir i was just trying to give a general idea as those areas seemed to come up with single starred status according to the book I'm using

Perfection cant be reached, but it can be strived for!
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Well, grasshopper, I mean, PassionateChef, a couple points...

The French would be furious if you mis-spellt their regions so here goes:

It's COONAWARRA, BARROSA, MCLAREN VALE (yeah, even I screwed up and I call myself an Australian :raz:)

As for everyday Australian wines, in the UK, you simply don't get enough of them. Although, having said that, the Waitrose Cellars, and I've only seen one of those in the Canary Wharf London store... has a good selection of lesser known vineyards.

I don't find consistency to be a problem, just 'bigness'. Some producers are consistently bad, big, bold, etc.

The regions are pretty well summed up so far however, but I do have a  problem with many Margaret River reds... too much tannin early on, and even with maturation, still too big.

Grange, well, there's a few out there and best to check the vintage and tasting notes before ripping the cork out. But the price of Grange in the UK is actually good value compared to what one pays for them in Australia... bullshit if you ask me.

The consistency of French product would appear to come from experience and knowledge of what goes with what, and how. Like I said earlier, we're just getting round to working our blends and learning to not just drink straight varietal expressions.

First off I was praising the consistency at the bottom end off the market not slating it I think its far more of a mine field if you spend a Fiver and ignore the Aussie Wine, secondly you've not heard my supposedly french accent*L* I can only apoligize for spellings but in my justification I'm a chef

Perfection cant be reached, but it can be strived for!
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I'm guessing your saying that I need to taste them over several years I have to admit I was lucky and ended up with a good year of Cos D'estournel but cant say that on a chefs budget I'll ever be able to afford a vertical tasting, as for pricing from my experience all I'm saying is that a mediocre year off a good American/Australia is about the same or more than a fantastic 2nd class wine, though got to admit still very new to the whole wine industry, I'd agree with your terroir i was just trying to give a general idea as those areas seemed to come up with single starred status according to the book I'm using

I'm saying that you / I / we should keep tasting. Cos is a very nice St-Estephe; it does it for you, but it doesn't really turn my crank. The best wines are the ones that we like.

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I'm guessing your saying that I need to taste them over several years I have to admit I was lucky and ended up with a good year of Cos D'estournel but cant say that on a chefs budget I'll ever be able to afford a vertical tasting, as for pricing from my experience all I'm saying is that a mediocre year off a good American/Australia is about the same or more than a fantastic 2nd class wine, though got to admit still very new to the whole wine industry, I'd agree with your terroir i was just trying to give a general idea as those areas seemed to come up with single starred status according to the book I'm using

I'm saying that you / I / we should keep tasting. Cos is a very nice St-Estephe; it does it for you, but it doesn't really turn my crank. The best wines are the ones that we like.

Have to say the other 2nd class you mentioned earlier teased me, maybe one day I'll get to taste it(Pichon-Lalande) I'm guessing it's in the same price bracket though, not every day wine.

Stef

Perfection cant be reached, but it can be strived for!
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Yellow Tail appears to be the new party wine in Canada, and it's very popular with the people I know who don't drink wine. I've only tasted the Cab, and I'm very sorry for doing so.

Yeah, that sums it up pretty nicely. I confess I do have a couple bottles of Yellow Tail on hand, but only for serving at parties where I have some friends who don't care about wine quality/wouldn't notice the difference anyway, just are drinking to get a little (or a lot) plastered. Their so-called "Reserve" chardonnay didn't even match a mediocre California Chardonnay.

I have had a couple--I wish I could remember their names now--very nice Australian wines at wine tasting dinners, obviously better quality stuff than they've been pushing in our local state stores as the new cheap drinks (YT, Stonehaven, Alice White, Hanwood, etc.) While I've found few of these outright offensive (save the Alice White Lexia...the first wine bottle I have just poured down the sink in disgust after one glass!), they just seem to lack the complexity and subtlety I've come to desire in my wines...even in wines $10 and less.

The other problem I seem to have is that most of the Australian whites I've had totally knock me for a loop very quickly--I feel seriously toasted after a glass or two. It's weird, for I can easily polish off half a bottle of a good California or French white and just feel pleasantly buzzy.

I do find, though, that the Wyndham Estate Bin 222 Chardonnay is a fabulous cooking wine. :raz:

I wouldn't mind some good recs for better quality Australian wines to sample, though. It just seems like they've been pushing the low-end swill around here and it's hard to find what quality stuff I'm sure is out there.

sockii

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| South Jersey Foodie |

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I'm more fond of wines from Western Austrailia (Margaret River) than I am of wines from just about anywhere else. That's a very broad generalization, but I find those wines to have more blance and acid that the highly extracted and sometimes highly oaked wines from the more well-known regions.

I don't have any Australian wine in the cellar at the moment. The last one was a 1996 Cape Clairault Bordeaux-style blend. Polished that off a year ago, and it was very pleasant.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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I first got turned on to Oz Shiraz about ten years ago, when I was given a bottle of Peter Lehman Barossa Shiraz. My price range is $25-and under. I've gotten a bit weary of the fruit-bomb style of Marquis Phillips and Peter Lehman, but there are a number of recent shirazes and blends that have knocked my socks off:

2003 Torbreck Woodcutter's Shiraz--lucky me, I've got a whole case of this

2002 Kangarilla Road Shiraz

2002 Two Hands Brave Faces (Shiraz-Grenache)

2002 Turkey Flat GSM

All of the above wines have depth, complexity and fruit. I love 'em!

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I'm pretty much a Penfold's boy.

I have the equivalent of four cases of Grange that spreads out across the last 3 decades beginning with 1976. FYI, the 1976 Grange the first Australian wine to break the $20 barrier upon release. Jeez, if only I could have bought a pallet of that back then!

I have two bottles of Bin 389 from each vintage since 1996. These are slated to be opened 15 years after the vintage.

I have two bottles of Bin 28 from each vintage since 1998. These are slated to be opened 10 years after the vintage.

I have two bottles of Bin 128 from each vintage since 1999. These are slated to be opened 10 years after the vintage.

I have two bottles of Yattarna (Chardonnay) from each vintage since 1995. These are slated to be opened 10 years after the vintage.

Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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Given the hugh amount of Australian wine sold in the UK, it is strange how difficult it is to find an interesting bottle. Things I can't get.

Fortifieds: Muscat and Tokay from Rutherglen (Chambers, Bullers, Stanton and Killeen).

Riesling: Pikes, Castle Rock, Leo Buring, Howard Park, Delatite.

Semillion, the age worthy examples from the Hunter River Valley would have to be some of Australians best whites. But they need to be aged!: Lindermans, McWilliams (lovedale and elisabeth), Tyrells.

Tahbilk Marsanne. Again needs to be aged for ~5-10 years otherwise it tastes like nothing.

Shiraz - Lindermans and Tryrell's Hunter River Shirazs (big range, I mean the top end), Jasperhill, Bowens Estate, Craiglee, Mt Langi ghiran, Best's Great Western bin 00.

Coonawarra Cabernet's (Bowens again, Balnaves, Wynns).

Any red wine from AP Birks Wendouree.

Plus many others. Sob.

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Australian wine accounts for 5% of my cellar and 6% of my wine consumption. Thanks to cellartracker it's easy to find all sorts of info about my cellar. Here are the Australian wines currently in my cellar:

2002 d'Arenberg The Laughing Magpie (Australia, South Australia, McLaren Vale)

2001 Cascabel Grenache Et Al (Australia, South Australia, McLaren Vale)

2001 Fox Creek Shiraz Reserve (Australia, South Australia, McLaren Vale)

2001 Howard Park Shiraz Scotsdale (Australia, Western Australia)

1998 Penfolds Bin 389 (Australia, South Australia)

1997 Penfolds Shiraz RWT (Australia, South Australia)

1996 Penfolds Bin 389 (Australia, South Australia)

1996 Penfolds Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 707 (Australia, South Australia)

1995 Penfolds Shiraz Grange (Australia, South Australia)

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We recently had a bottle of Penfolds (Grange) 1995. It was wonderful. I always assume I am the least knowledgeable poster on a forum and in this case I look forward to expanding my knowledge base.

If only Jack Nicholson could have narrated my dinner, it would have been perfect.

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I was in Australia this past Christmas and had several great wines. Of those that I recall, in no particular order:

d'Arenberg Laughing Magpie and Dead Arm

Charles Melton Nine Popes

Two Hands Angel's Share

Torbreck The Struie

Domaine Chandon Greenpoint

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