I would consider myself a wine novice. I know that I like wines, both red and white, and I can identify some notes, flavours and smells but when it comes to identifying countries, regions and grape varieties I’m afraid I’m still knocking on the door trying to gain entry….I am learning though.
This is where Wine Events Scotland comes in and gives me a wee helping hand. These workshops run by Diana Thompson are always super friendly, very informal but very informative.
This particular Australian Wine evening was held at Le Di-Vin in the West End, Edinburgh and was possibly one of the most easy going, fun wine events I have ever been to.
Six tables are set up with 20 bottles of wines, each grouped into region and red and or white wines. There was 15 people and two hours to leisurely work your way through all the wines; sniffing, swirling, sipping and spitting (if you didn’t like it) and writing comments if you so chose, on your wine sheet. Diana is also on hand to provide you with additional information over and above the info sheets on the tables.
So for those that like Australian Wine, or those that know nothing but want to try a few nice Australian wines, here goes…
We started off with Sparkling Wines
Signature Aurelia Pinot Noir/Chardonnay from Robert Oatley. Aurelia means golden and this certainly is. It’s a flavoursome sparkling wine this one and you’ll certainly pick up vibrant apple and citrus notes and a creamy, lingering finish.
This is from Western Australia and crafted from 40% Pinot Noir grapes and 60% Chardonnay. Pinot Noir is a red grape and needs a temperate climate in order to thrive so ideally it needs to be close to ocean or high up to receive the cooling effects from these locations. Chardonnay is a white grape variety and very adaptable to climate growing well in both cooler and warmer climes. Cooler weather produces a lighter body with high acidity and subtle flavours whilst warmer weather produces full bodied, richer and riper fruit with bolder flavours.
The Tight Cluster, Magpie Estate Sparkling Shiraz 2012. This is a stunning bottle of wine. A really deep red colour with berry fruits, spice, hints of cedar, some subtle smoky notes and liquorice. Hailing from Barossa Valley, one of the most historic wine producing regions in Australia, it has a Mediterranean climate ideal for full-bodied red wines and along with Riesling, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon grape varieties, it’s home to the Shiraz grapes; the most famous variety in Barossa.
From here we moved onto the Rieslings starting with four from Clare Valley. Clare Valley is situated in the northern Mt Lofty Ranges and is considered the most picturesque wine regions in South Australia with weather that’s hot during the day whilst temperature plummet at night.
Reisling grapes love the cooler temperatures and is often one of the last white varieties to be harvested.
Vickery Watervale, Clare Valley Riesling 2016. Bright vivacious colour, with intense fruit flavours such as lemon, lime and citrus, a slight taste of mineral acidity but with a long finish.
Grosset Polish Hill, Clare Valley Riesling 2017. This is a very dry wine with strong lemon flavours but you’ll also pick up flint or slate and definitely petrol (which is a charateristic of Reislings). Others in the group said they could pick up lavender and jasmine which I couldn’t. Definitely in my top 5 favourites of the night.
Vinteloper Odeon, Clare Valley Riesling 2016. Only 660 bottles produced. This is a very special Riesling from a single artisan vineyard 440m above sea level rich in minerals. Quite dry but you should pick up honey and toasted oats. I didn’t like this one and was way too dry for me. Seemingly it will age for 20+ years, it might improve.
Continuing with the Reislings, we moved over to the White Wines from Eden Valley. Eden Valley is next to Barossa Valley in the South and is represented by at least 36 wineries.
Peter Lehman Wigan Riesling, Eden Valley 2011. Hold this up to the light and you’ll notice it’s lemon yellow with a green tinge. If you like freshly squeezed lime juice then you’ll like this as it’s zesty acidic with notes of minerals; again another dry white wine.
Vickery Riesling, Eden Valley 2015. Grapes grow at an altitude of around 500-meters, culminating in a more fragrant Riesling. it’s a delicate wine with rose petal and green apple notes and hints of spice.
Next we are off to the Limestone Coast, bound by the coastline and borders Victoria. The wine zone includes the Coonawarra, Mount Benson, Mount Gambier, Robe, Padthaway and Wrattonbully wine regions.
Artan Reserve Chardonnay, Limestone Coast 2017. An absolute glorious wine. A lovely green-yellow hue, you’ll taste buttery biscuits and melon, pineapple; a little lime and some vanilla. Slightly sweet, this is a bottle you’ll easily finish.
Then we’re off to New South Wales and the Hunter Valley known as the birthplace of Australian wine with vineyards dating back to 1860s. It is also one of Australia’s wettest regions, most humid and therefore technically the warmest of all the climates; and home of one of Australia’s classic and most unique dry white wines, Semillon.
Gundog Estate Semillon 2015. And this folks is the winner of the evening. Simply delicious! A classic Hunter Valley semillon with a twist. It’s picked early for ageability and the trademark acidity. It’s extremely fragrant and you’ll smell lemongrass and peaches. There is a sweetness there which offsets the fresh acidity.
Brokenwood Semillon 2011. Another lovely wine. Aged for six years before they release it and is not aged in oak. It’s just starting to show yellow tints with slight green edges. Plenty floral notes in this one and others said they could smell almonds and honey. Citrus tastes are big and quite acidic.
Onto the Red Wines and we head to Barossa Valley to taste two Shiraz varieties. The style is typically full-bodied with ripe fruit and plush tannins.
Robert Oatley Shiraz, Barossa Valley 2015. Mclaren Vale area is renowned for flavours rich in ripe cherries, dark chocolate and black olive. You’ll pick up notes of blueberries and spice with supple tannins and quite a bitter finish.
Turkey Flat Vineyards Shiraz, Barossa Valley 2015. It’s toasty, malty, beautifully blackberried and rich. But you also might pick up plum, kirsch, cream and cocoa characters. A real ‘go to’ wine.
Lighted/New Wave Reds – In a move away from the traditional French methods of making wine, it’s native Italian grapes that are having the huge influence on new-wave Australian wines. Grapes such as Nero d’Avola, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Fiano are becoming commonplace. These new wave wines are also lower in alcohol, they can have an orange hue as a result of prolonged grape skin and wine contact and they are becoming more organic and biodynamic (using less chemicals) resulting in a lighter, fresher wine.
Crittenden Estate, Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2016. Quite fruit driven with soft tannins this is a bright ruby red colour with a pleasing long finish.
Heirloom Shiraz, Eden Valley 2013. Inky red in the glass, you’ll pick up aromas of red fruits and darker blackberries and blueberries. You’ll taste a wee bit of spice but overall its quite fruity but fresh.
Coonawarra is where Cabernet is king and creates great Cabernet Sauvignon wines which are full-bodied with cassis, blackberry, plum and dark cherry flavours. Coonawarra has a cool climate even during the summer allowing the grapes to ripen to perfection.
Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonwarra 2013. For me all I could smell was strawberries and blackberries. It’s quite a heady wine with plenty cassis and definitely black berries. Another one of my Top 5.
Lehmann and Hesketh Coonawarra Cabernet and Barossa Shiraz 2013. This is a blend from two big hitters in Australia. The best Cabernet Sauvignon from Jonathan Hesketh’s ‘Block 95’ at Coonawarra’s Parker Estate and its Shiraz counterpart from Phil Lehamnn’s ‘House Block’ in the Eden Valley. It’s deep, dark and intense. For me the jury is out on this one.
And lastly onto my favourite part of the tasting, the Dessert Wines.
De Bortoli Noble One Riverina Semillon 2014. If you ever come across this, buy it in abundance. It’s absolutely beyond delicious. A gorgeous amber colour and very luxurious, silky and velvety on the palate. It’s sweet, yes but it’s layered. You’ll pick up tastes of honey, citrus, vanilla, nuts and marmalade. My Number One wine of the night.
Pfeiffer Topaque Rutherglen Muscadelle. You’ll taste honeyed apricots and toffee; maybe candied fruit. It’s a gorgeous bright golden amber colour and although sweet, it is balanced with some spiciness and a little dryness.
Chambers Rosewood Rutherglen Muscat. A tawny red colour with aromas of rose petals, raisins and dried fruit. You might pick up a hint of orange peel and some spice. A very unctuous wine.
My Top 5
- Joint 1st place – De Bortoli Noble One Riverina Semillon 2014 and Gundog Estate Semillon 2015.
- The Tight Cluster, Magpie Estate Sparkling Shiraz 2012.
- Artan Reserve Chardonnay, Limestone Coast 2017.
- Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonwarra 2013.
- Grosset Polish Hill, Clare Valley Riesling 2017.
These Wine Evenings and workshops are run by Wine Events Scotland and the next workshops are: