History, Evolution & Revolution of Australian wine

A series of tastings held around the world to showcase Australian wines has finally made it to Singapore.
 
Gone are the days when Australian wines are thought of as less complex or interesting as the European counterparts. Today’s Aussie wines have a place in every wine-lover’s cellar.
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Revered favourites such as Hunter Semillon continue to impress… I have yet to taste a Semillon that will rival this wine in terms of its uniqueness. Although still youthful, with a pungency of citrus/laksa leaf/ buah long long and bone-dry acidic tension, Tyrells Vat 1, Semillon 2005 promises to deliver a lanolin-roundness and delicate complexity in another 10-20 years.
 
An personal old favourite, the St. Hallett Old Block Barossa Shiraz has come of age! A frequent pour amongst students at Roseworthy, I recall it to be a fuller-bodied wine with smooth tannins. The 2012 vintage is medium-bodied with fine tannins and a medium-long finish. The wine is complex with a lovely nose of mint, Chinese dried red dates,  sour plums, chocolate with overtones of toasty oak and toffee.
 
Another classic, the Wynns Cooonawarra John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 proved to be worthy of its time-honoured status. Brimming with herbs, black and red fruit, red peppers, hints of bitter herbs, ginseng and dried figs, this wine is concentrated with chewy, sticky tannins and a long finish. This wine will remain a favourite amongst Bordeaux drinkers in a blind tasting line-up.
 
I especially enjoyed the comparison of the St. Hallett with two other Syrah’s/Shiraz.  First is what I would call an Aussie New Wave Syrah producer – the Luke Lambert Yarra Valley Syrah 2015. This cool-climate style wine with berry aromas, attractive cough syrup flavours and a fine grind of black and white pepper is flavoursome and delicate at the same time. I could not believe this was a typical Australian Syrah – the kind that jumps out of the glass and punches you in the face. And no wonder… the producer had aged the wine in 4000-litre foudres, Guigal-Cotes du Rhone fashion.
 
The other Shiraz is the Battle of Bosworth Puritan McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015. Organic, natural with no sulphur added (yes, and perhaps this fore-tells the future of winemaking!) This wine showed a purity of fruit with plums, berries and attractive medicinal overtones. It was delicious, forward-juicy with bittersweet finish and medium tannins.
 
For whites, I enjoyed the sweet-balanced Grosset Alea Clare Valley Riesling 2014. Grosset has always been my Ocker Riesling favourite alongside Pikes, Pewsey Vale, Knappstein and Henschke.
 
A Vasse Felix Premier Margaret River Chardonnay 2014 came across intense with lemon lime, butter-peach and pear with a aftertaste of dried apricots. Medium bodied and with a crisp backbone – ABC drinkers will be surprised indeed!
 
The wine of the tasting was made from Savignin! The BK Wines Skin ‘n Bones Adelaide Hills White 2015 had savoury characteristics with barley overtones and flavours of crushed green grapes and dried fruit. In some ways it was reminiscent of an organic Savignin from Arbois. I felt that with a little more time in the bottle, it might develop those biscuit characteristics that I savoured in an aged bottle of Langhe Chardonnay from a famous Piedmonte producer.
 
The Moorooduc Estate Robinson Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2013, was immensely enjoyable for its beautiful fruit underlined by its hints of pomegranate, chestnuts, cherries and spice. It was juicy, refined with a satin texture and a bittersweet long aftertaste.
 
How far Australian pinots have come! Looking back, 30 years ago, they were mostly over-extracted, lacking in taste (due to over-cropping) or uninteresting (with typical jammy warm climate flavours).
Today, this Pinot can stand alongside some of the tastiest from Martinborough, Willamette and the Ahr.
 
Australia continues experimenting with new varietals. The La Linea Adelaide Hills Tempranillo 2014 is an example.  This wine was juicy-savoury with a nice backbone of tannin. Like European wines, with a little coaxing, the wine opened up to reveal sour cherries with a sweet fruity finish. In a blind tasting, I might have mistaken this wine for a modern-styled Temp-Garnacha blend from Rioja Baja.
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