Last night I had the pleasure of joining a group of Somms for an Australia-specific wine tasting night. I forgot my phone, unfortunately, so you'll have to endure some LCBO website images. We tasted more red than white, which is perhaps unsurprsing, though a little unfair. Though I don't drink a lot of Australian wine, the whites that they produce can be more elegant and restrained than some of the big, fruity Shirazes that they've become so famous for. Here are the highlights, according to me.
I surprised myself with my favourite white wine of the evening, because it was a Chardonnay. I don't usually prefer Chardonnay over other white varietals, but the Sticks 2010 from Yarra Valley is a particularly lovely example of ripe, unoaked Chardonnay. The nose was was full of fruit, ranging from lemon peel, lemon curd, and lime juice, to white peach, ripe kiwi, and apricot. The palate burst with juicy flavour, adding mandarin and granny smith apple. There was a pleasant roundness to the wine, which might come from a tiny bit of malo-lactic fermentation, or perhaps from sitting on lees. This was certainly one of the most complex Chardonnays I've tasted, and it was delicious with a soft goat cheese we had on hand.
My top red of the night was a Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra. The Coonawarra region is notable for its 'terra rossa' - red earth - which is said to give the wines a particular elegance. The region also has a moderate climate, meaning that it's not as hot as some of the other growing regions in Australia. This allows the winemakers to produce a less alcoholic and less jammy-tasting wine than in some other regions. Wynne's Coonawarra Estate Black Label 2010 Cab Sauv had ripe strawberries, red cherries, spice box, and a touch of cedar on the nose, with a palate to match, adding flavours of tea, cherry pit, and a touch of graphite on the mid-palate. This was a medium bodied wine, with well-integrated alcohol and tannins. It was delicious with sliced prosciutto, the acid in the wine cutting through the fattiness of the meat.
Since one of Australia's earliest produced and most famous style of wine is a sweet Semillon, we also got the chance to try a little desert wine. De Bortoli's 2009 Noble One, a 100% botrytis-infected Semillon wine, is not to be missed if you like sweet wines. With a nose full of candied oranges, honeycomb, ginger, and toast, a palate to match, and mouth-watering juiciness, the Noble One was an excellent match for salted fois gras on baguette. Don't miss out, this is delicious.