2014 Australian Wine Trade Show

 

Though the physical world is getting smaller, it seems that the wine world is in-fact getting bigger and with wine entering into the market from all corners of the world, one may find all this information overwhelming. Most people aren’t wine educators or Master Sommeliers and don’t want to spend much time thinking about it, so in order to simplify all this information, generalizations form. In time, these generalization lead to pre-conceptions and so when ‘Australian wine’ is mentioned, one automatically thinks of big and bold Shiraz in a flashy twist top bottle. Beyond Shiraz, what are other Australian wines and what are they all about?

 

Intro Australian Wine Tasting
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As one can imagine, the wine growing/making history began ‘shortly’, according to the blueprint of colonization, much like was done previously in other regions in the world with suitable climate. In this case, it happened a hundred years after the ‘discovery’ of the continent in 1688 but it took another 132 years before it made it onto the domestic market[1]. In 2008, roughly 172,675 hectares were under vine with Shiraz dominating the landscape and occupying 25% of the land; next with Chardonnay closely followed by Cabernet Sauvignon each taking 18% and 16%, respectively; and Merlot, Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Grenache and Mourvedre covering most of the remaining ground within the 60 winegrowing regions[1]. So these are the varietals, but what is done with them?

 

Southwardly view of the OCAD building and CN tower.
Soutward Look from AGO
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To facilitate understanding of Australian winemaking and the direction it is heading at, Wine Australia organized a trade show in several Canadian cities. On February 6th, it was held in Toronto at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the event commenced with ‘Evolving Classics’ seminar followed by non-structured walkabout tasting.
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Evolving Classics Seminar
The one-and-a-half hour seminar was hosted by Mark Davidson – Educator director of Wine Australia and John Szabo – Master sommelier, and featured three tasting flights of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz/Syrah. Mr. Szabo carefully chose representative wines such that the were meant to highlight areas where a trend shift has been underway (first two), to showcase the quality (all three) or to contrast cool versus warm climate (the last one).

 

Seminar Wine Lineup

 

Chardonnay
The times of overoaked, buttery, pineappley-peary Chardonnays may be numbered as in the past 10 or so years, the Australian winemakers have been toning down the oak use in favor of more fresh style. Also, they began to utilize and more recently embrace the reductive process (not allowing the yeast to convert sugar to alcohol as occurs in the presence of oxygen) to introduce hydrogen sulfide and mercaptans into the wine in small quantities. If attended and controlled, notes mostly associated with light burnt match get represented within the wine; but if overdone – volatile, foul notes of rotten eggs, rubber dominate and spoil the wine. John picked the following three wines to demonstrate this shift.
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The 2012 Wolf Blass White Label Chardonnay, grown in the cool Adelaide Hills, is deeply aromatic with notes of lees, stems, butter scotch, quince and faint barrel-wood and struck match. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; with forward, crisp acidity and a medium finish. This is a sipping wine despite being food friendly; drink now – 2020. My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 91 pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 91 pts. $40.00 Treasury Wine Estates
The 2012 Stonier Reserve Chardonnay, sourced from the Mornington Peninsula, has appealing aromas of lemon, green apple, pineapple, acacia, butter, vanilla and oak. It is a light to medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; with checked acidity and a medium finish. Drink with food, drink now and for the next few years. My impression: NICE, 87-88 pts.
Score 87-88 pts. $45.00 Select Wine Merchants
The 2012 Yering Station Reserve Chardonnay, from the cool Yarra Valley, has intense aromas of gooseberry, lees, wood and subtle creaminess. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; though on the acidic side its acidity is refreshing and has a medium, lightly reductive finish. Drink with food, drink now and for the next few years. My impression: NOTHING SPECIAL to NICE, 88 pts.
Score 88 pts. $85.00 Select Wine Merchants

 

Pinot Noir
The Pinot Noir grape fares best when grown in cool climate as it develops subtle, yet complex aromas that often are in balance with its lighter body. Some appellations, Yarra Valley or Mornington Peninsula, are way south that their maritime climate receives cool winds coming from Antarctica – perfect for growing this grape. In John’s words “When it comes to Pinot, sometimes you may not get what you pay for, but you will never get what you didn’t pay for” – which in my experience holds true thus far. The chosen Pinot Noir flight had these four wines.
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The 2011 Yering Station Village Pinot Noir, grown in Yarra Valley, has appealing notes of rosehip, cranberry, light smoked meat, wood and yeastiness. It is a light bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; with good acidity, tight tannins and a medium finish. Drink with food; put away for the tannins to integrate – drink 2016+ to 2020+. My impression: NICE, 90 pts – more than well priced.
RECOMMENDED Score 90 pts. $25.00 Select Wine Merchants
The 2010 Yabby Lake Vineyard Pinot Noir, a blend of MV6 (80%) and Pommard, G5V15, and 115 clones making up the remainder – all sourced from the Mornington Peninsula; has captivating, intense aromas of almond, cigar box, black currant and raspberry. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, integrated wine; balanced with good acidity, refined, dusty tannins and a long and smooth finish. This is a sipping wine; drink now to 2020+. My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 93 pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 93 pts. $49.95 Vintages 262402
The 2009 Kooyong Ferrous Pinot Noir, sourced from the cool Mornington Peninsula, has appealing aromas of yogurt, lees, cranberry and wood on the nose and cranberry, pomegranate, strawberry, raspberry, wood and vanilla on the palate. It is a light to medium bodied, extra-dry fruity to integrated wine; balanced with good, crisp acidity, drying tannins and a medium finish. This is a food friendly, sipping wine; put away for couple of years – drink 2016-2020+. My impression: NICE to BEAUTIFUL, 90 pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 90 pts. $59.75 Vintages 287805
The 2012 Coldstream Hills Deer Farm Vineyard Pinot Noir has intense aromas of wet slate minerality and lees as well as subtle pomegranate and raspberry notes. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; with refreshing acidity, drying tannins and a medium to long finish. Drink with food; drink 2015 to 2018+. My impression: NICE, 88-89 pts.
Score 88-89 pts. $29.95 Treasury Wine Estates
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Shiraz
Australian Shiraz/Syrah may need no introduction, however it may be worth mentioning that though a same grape, stylistically (yet not always followed) Syrah symbolizes cool climate, traditional, French style wine; while Shiraz represents new world, warm, full bodied wine – with Penfolds Grange being arguably the most famous one.
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The 2012 Jamsheed Garden Gully Syrah, sourced from Great Western in Victoria, has intense aromas of blackberry, prune and blackcurrant. It is a full bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; with forward acidity, refined tannins and a medium to long, bit extracted finish. This is a party favorite; drink now – 2020. My impression: NICE, 88-89 pts.
Score 88-89 pts. $60.00 The Living Wine Inc.
The 2010 Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Shiraz, sourced from Strathbognie Ranges in Victoria, has an intense nose of raspberry, blackberry, fennel seed and almond. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; balanced with forward, crisp acidity, refined tannins and a long finish. It is food friendly and will please as a sipper; drink now to 2018+. My impression: NICE to BEAUTIFUL, 90 pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 90 pts. $35.95 Vintages 243592
The 2008 Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz, harvested from 100-year-old vines grown in the Eden Valley, has awe-inspiring aromas of blackcurrant extract, black cherry, cigar box and bilberry. It is a full bodied, extra-dry, fruity to integrated wine; balanced with forward, refreshing acidity, refined tannins and extra-long, smooth finish. This is a sipping wine to be enjoyed with someone special; drink now – 2025+. My impression: BEAUTIFUL to DIVINE, 93+ pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 93+ pts. $119.00 Vintages 718601
The 2005 Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier, grown in Canberra district, has subdued aromas of lees, black cherry, wood, pepper and barnyard on the nose and lees, black cherry and roasted coffee bean on the palate. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, aged wine; with good acidity, refined tannins and a medium finish. This is a sipper as any food will dominate it; drink now – 2017 (fruit is drying out). My impression: NICE, 90 pts.
Score 90 pts. $175.00 Clonakilla Winery

 

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Walkabout Tasting
The non-structured walkabout tasting took place on the 3rd floor of the AGO at the Baillie Court room. The 31 tables showcased on average 5-6 wines equaling to roughly 180+ wines – number too vast to be reviewed in one sitting, not to mention ~3 hours that I had available. I narrowed the selection to the wines that are available at the LCBO, which still equaled to good percentage of the presented wines. Below is a listing of most reviews (only complete reviews are included) organized by variety and ranked by rating. In summary, most wines were well made and that reflected in the number of recommended buys for either quality, value or both.

 

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The 2012 Fowles Wine Are you Game? Chardonnay has appealing aromas of pineapple, lime, green apple, butter and vanilla. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry (perceivably dry), fruity wine; with refreshing acidity and a medium to long finish. This is a food friendly wine; drink now – 2018+. My impression: NICE, 88 pts.
Score 88 pts. $15.95 LCBO 359984
The 2012 Grant Burge Summers Chardonnay has intense aromas of gooseberry, lees and faint burnt match. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; with crisp, refreshing acidity and a medium finish. Enjoy with food, or sip on its own; drink now – 2020. My impression: NICE, 88-89 pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 88-89 pts. $19.95 LCBO 269829
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The 2007 Brothers in Arms Cabernet Sauvignon, sourced from 50+ year old vines, has intense aromas of anise, clove, pomegranate, vanilla and oak. It is a full bodied, extra-dry, integrated wine; BALANCED with forward acidity, refine tannins and a long and smooth finish. Enjoy this one on-its-own; drink now – 2024. My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 91-92 pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 91-92 pts. $55.90 Sylvestre Wine & Spirits
The 2010 Jim Barry Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon has intense aromas of stems, pomegranate, cranberry, red currant, vanilla and oak. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity to integrated wine; BALANCED with refreshing acidity, refined tannins and a medium to long, silky finish. Enjoy on its own; drink now – 2020+. My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 91 pts – recommended for its quality and value.
RECOMMENDED Score 91 pts. $19.90 Vintages 677476
The 2010 Ringbolt 21 Barriques Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in French and American Oak (30/70%) for 12 months; has intense aromas of black cherry, dark chocolate, lees, oak, vanilla and pomegranate. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, integrated wine; with forward acidity, dusty tannins and a medium to long finish. Drink with food or on its own; drink now-2020+. My impression: NICE to BEAUTIFUL, 91 pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 91 pts. $44.95 Vintages 367870
The 2009 Stone Dwellers Cabernet Sauvignon has intense aromas of creamy cherry, vanilla and wood. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry fruity wine, with forward acidity, refined tannins and a medium to long finish. This is a food friendly and a sipping wine; drink now – 2018+. My impression: NICE to BEAUTIFUL, 89 pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 89 pts. $19.75 LCBO 212761
The 2009 Stella Bella Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, of 73/27% proportions aged in French Oak for 24 months; has intense aromas of blackberry, black cherry, vanilla, creamy oak and coconut. It is a medium bodied; extra-dry, fruity wine; balanced with good acidity, refined tannins and a long and smooth finish. This is a sipping wine despite being food friendly; drink now – 2020++. My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 91 pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 91 pts. $29.95 Vintages – no longer available
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The 2010 Grant Burge Miamba Shiraz, sourced from 20 year old vines and then aged in French Oak for 12 months; has appealing aromas of lees, blackberry and black cherry on the nose and blackberry, raspberry, coconut, vanilla and oak on the palate. It is a full bodied, extra-dry/dry, fruity wine; with good acidity, refined tannins and a medium finish. Drink with food or sip on its own; drink now – 2018+. My impression: NICE, 88-89 pts.
Score 88-89 pts. $19.95 LCBO 284091
The 2008 Camelback Shiraz, aged in French Oak for 14 months, has intense aromas of cranberry, pomegranate, raspberry, lees and oak. It is a medium bodied, extra-dry, integrated wine; acidic with refined tannins and a medium, somewhat reduced finish. My impression: NOTHING SPECIAL, 87 pts – there is a possibility that this was not a good bottle.
Score 87 pts. $27.95 Vintages 665125
The 2008 Stella Bella Skuttlebutt Shiraz/Cabernet – composed of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon + 42% Shiraz + 8% Merlot; has attractive aromas of cranberry, pomegranate, black cherry and subtle lees. It is a medium bodied, dry, fruity wine; with good – forward/refreshing acidity, dusty/refined tannins and a long and smooth finish. It is food friendly; drink now and for the next 3-5 years. My impression: NICE, 89 pts.
Score 89 pts. $19.95 Vintages 58131 no longer available
The 2012 Hardys Chronicles Butchers Gold Shiraz Sangiovese, in 80%/20% proportions, has appealing aromas of stems, lees, baked raspberry and blackberry and a faint burnt match note. It is a full bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; with forward acidity, refined, dusty tannins and a medium finish. Drink with food; drink now – 2018. My impression: NICE, 88 pst.
Score 88 pts. $15.00 LCBO 219139
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The 2012 Yalumba Old Bush Vine Grenache, sourced from vines that are 70 to 80 years old; has pleasing aromas of yogurty sour cherry, raspberry, strawberry and oak. It is a light to medium bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; with forward, refreshing acidity, dusty yet refined tannins and a medium to long, smooth finish. Enjoy on its own or with food; drink now – 2020. My impression: BEAUTIFUL, 90-91 pts – recommended for its quality.
RECOMMENDED Score 90-91 pts. $24.95 Not yet released? 669407
The 2011 Pirramimma Stock’s Hill GSM has appealing aromas of red currant and blackberry. It is a medium to full bodied, extra-dry, fruity wine; with forward, refreshing acidity, refined tannins and a medium finish. Enjoy with food or by itself; drink now – 2018+. My impression: NICE, 88-89 pts – recommended for its value (since it is discounted by the LCBO).
RECOMMENDED Score 88-89 pts. $16.90 LCBO 352252

 

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My thanks to Wine Australia for the invitation.
Wine Australia
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References
1. Wikipedia

 

 

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