As I am tasting and drinking more and more imported wines I have really noticed the acidity in these wines, in comparison to what I usually drink from Australia.
I love Australian wines, in fact I sell Australian wines both within Australia and in the International Markets. I believe that Australia produces some of the best wines in the world, both in value and in quality. That being said, our wines are different and acidity is one of the big differences.
I have never really liked, nor drunk a lot of the big Aussie warm climate Shiraz, even when they were trendy. Think about big Barossa wines that chased the points from Robert Parker in the late 1990’s early 2000’s. Back then I wished I was selling those wines, for it was really hard to get a US buyer interested about a medium bodied elegant wine from Orange. But the tide is starting to turn, as people are moving away from these high alcohol wines with lashings of oak.
It is safe to assume that I am a bit biased towards medium bodied wines that have structure and weight. I don’t want to chew my wines and get drunk after 2 glasses. (I want to drink a bottle and then be drunk!!!!)
I once saw a label proudly quoting an alcohol level of 16.5%. I purchased a bottle just to taste it, and whilst being a pretty good wine, I certainly didn’t buy anymore
But back to the wine and the tasting notes and my continued scribbling of “a lovely linear acidity through the palate.” A bit of wank I know, and yes I do take tasting notes, but this acid framework is a feature of European wines, or to be more precise cooler climate wines. I find it really engaging and thought provoking to drink a wine and not be beaten over the head by the alcohol, tannins and oak. I want the flavours to branch out from the acidity that runs down the middle palate. (Yes I know I will stop the wine wank)
What got me thinking about this Acidity , was a great little wine I drank over the weekend. It was a wine from one of the top producers of Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Henri Bonneau. Regrettably my budget did not allow me to try his flagship wine at $500, but it was their entry level product, the Vin De France “Les Rouliers” .
It is a Grenache based wine from the 2005 and 2007 vintages, although no vintage is listed on the label. Whilst this wine is not earth shattering, it was certainly a really enjoyable drink with pizza on a Friday night as I watched the Super 15 rugby. The climate of the Southern Rhone is certainly not freezing and it can get pretty hot during summer, but it was the acidity that I remember more than anything about this wine and the flavours that developed and hung off this framework.
In general terms a cooler climate will generate wines with higher natural acids and lower alcohols in comparison to a warmer climate. This is one of the reasons why Australian and French wines can be so different. In Australia it is very common to adjust the acid and pH levels to achieve a more balanced wine. But wait, what about all the new trendy cool climate regions in Australia. Yes these wines will have that acidity and the framework I am talking about. Think about Canberra and the great wines of Tim Kirk and Clonakilla, Philip Shaw of Orange and the awesome wines from Seppelts in Great Western.
I do think there will always be a place for those big red wines from the warmer climates, but I believe there is a trend towards wines that are a little more nuanced, having this acidity and structure. Or am I just getting old and grumpy and don’t want to fight with all that alcohol and oak
Whatever the case, just keep on tasting and drinking different wines. Remember the old saying; Your favourite wine could be the next one you open!