Current Releases Down Under: A Report from Australian Harvest Day 2005
Australia has recently overtaken all other sources as the location from which America imports the most wine. The success of Yellow Tail and several other value wine brands has imprinted them as a producer of excellent value wines in the minds of consumers everywhere. This is not only true at the bottom end of the scale but across all price ranges and types of wines. Simply put, you get a lot more quality for your money with Australian wine than nearly anywhere else on the planet.
Couple this value orientation with a tradition of crafting excellent Syrah based wines, and you can imagine how I might not pass up the opportunity to attend Australian Harvest Day 2005, a public tasting event showcasing hundreds of Australian wines from recent vintages, as well as some artisanal food producers.
Overall, the event was worthwhile to attend if you’re interested in making a mental note for next year, however there were a lot of very low-end producers there, so without a little knowledge it was possible to taste a lot of unremarkable producers before hitting a good one. If I hadn’t been familiar with many of the names, I might have been quite disappointed. However, I was able to sample some wines from producers that consistently do great things, as well as some who are much smaller and interesting.
In addition to the normal routine of wineries pouring their stuff, they also had a couple of tables set up to showcase particular varietals, and in particular the aging potential of Shiraz. Most notable on offer was a 1992 Lloyd Reserve Shiraz, a smaller personal label from Coriole Vineyards in McLaren Vale which ended up being by far the best wine I tasted all day (Score: 9.5/10).
I was also glad to have experienced the wines of Grant Burge and Peter Lehmann for the first time, which were excellent across the board.
Here are my scores from the tasting at which I sampled most of the nearly 300 wines on offer. Note that when I refer to a “Rhone Blend” it most always is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre, and when I refer to Shiraz-Viognier blends, they are usually 90-95% Shiraz with the remainder Viognier.
2002 Howard Park “Leston” Cabernet, Margaret River. Score: 8.5. Cost: $19.
So there you have it. I wish there were more Chardonnays on offer, as Australia is kicking out some excellent ones these days but the representation at this tasting seemed a little weak. Reds, especially Shiraz and those Rhone style blends are definitely Australia’s sweet spot, and while there were also a couple of good Cabernets, most had that greenish unripeness that I detest in Cabernet.
In summary, I stand by my assertion that Australia continues to be a shining star of value in the wine world. Good ‘on ya, mate.
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