It is that time of the year as summer rolls over us all, with heat, bush fires, summer holidays, cricket and tennis. Most of these we look forward too, the bush fires not so much! As it warms up we will be eating outside, sitting on a deck, or a boat if you are lucky, with friends and family. The wines you will drink and the food you will be eating will be lighter, and so Dan Sharp our Sommelier has paid attention to the weight and balance of each wine. Even going so far as choosing a spectacular Rose from the South of France. Yes, the Rose Revolution is here to stay and if you have not enjoyed a chilled glass of Rose as the sun sets, then you really have not experienced one of the simple joys in life.
But first I want to talk about Australia and Australian wines. When we started Bullion Cellars it was not our attention to focus on International Wines. This kind of evolved with the work of the sommeliers and nature of the restaurant business always wanting to showcase something new and exciting.
If I was being honest, I had become a little stale with Australian wine, after selling it for over 20 years and I really embraced the new wines and styles that the Sommeliers have chosen. But the times they are a changing, for Australian wine has never been better, being led by small to medium sized family companies and young winemakers pushing the boundaries.
Whilst this renaissance is occurring, the rest of the world have a limited view on Australian Wine. There are several reasons for this. The export boom in the 1990’s was driven by large multinational wineries, using favourable exchange rates to produce oceans of technically correct, if a little bland Chardonnay and Shiraz. Then along came Yellowtail and the resurgence of Penfolds as Australia’s only international wine brands. So when people think of Australian wine in the UK/USA/Canada/ China, they think of two things, Penfolds and Yellowtail. Penfolds has a style and it is very bloody good and Yellowtail is one of the most successful wine brands in the world – selling almost 13 million cases a year to over 50 countries, all from a single winery based in Griffith in central NSW. But to say these two wineries reflect Australia is just crazy. Yet to the rest of the world that is Australian wine.
There loss is our gain, for the diversity and quality of our wines are world class. Chardonnay has never been better, Pinot Noir is starting to get the recognition its quality demands, Grenache, Semillon, Riesling, sparkling wine and Cabernet, are all on fire. The only wine that seems to be a little shy is Shiraz, but maybe that has something to do with palate fatigue. Aren’t we all just getting a little tired of that big ballsy Shiraz, or is that just me?
The reason for this little comment on Australia is that Dan has chosen three Australian wines from some of the best winemakers in Australia.
First up we have a Tasmanian Riesling. If you were starting a new vineyard / winery venture in Australia, and Tasmania was not one of your top 3 choices, then you really have not done your homework. As global warming ratchets up, Tasmanian is looking cooler and cooler every year, in all sorts of ways. The vineyards are developing some age and maturity, as are the winemakers, who have gained plenty of experience around Australia and the world, bringing this back to the Apple isle. (Soon to be rebranded the “Grape Isle”).
The wine Dan has chosen is a great example of modern Australian Riesling. 2019 Quiet Mutiny Charlotte’s Elusion Riesling Derwent Valley Tasmania. Fresh and vibrant with plenty of lime, citrus and green apple, which is all you used to get from Riesling from a few years ago, but now the good winemakers are looking for texture and palate weight to complete the wine. You want complexity in fine wine, and this wine has it in spades. I am constantly surprised when people tell me they do not like Riesling. I feel they have just not tried wines like this. Made from a second-generation Tassie winemaker, Geer Carland, this is a winery I was not aware of, but one I will continue to watch as the years pass. There are certainly exciting times ahead for the Tasmanian wine industry.
Dan has then chosen two Australian reds, one from an established leader of the Victorian and Geelong regions, the other a bright young thing from the Barossa.
Bannockburn has a storied history beginning in 1974, developing into one of the shining lights of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir production in Australia. Their single vineyard wines are truly world class. I have always enjoyed their wines, being seduced by their sexy, flashy and rather expensive Chardonnay’s. The wine Dan has chosen is their red blend and it is also very impressive. The 2016 Bannockburn Douglas is a very odd name to call a wine, but I am sure it has something to do with the name of some family member, but it suits a very odd blend, one I have not seen before – Cabernet Sauvignon 68%, Pinot Noir 28%, Merlot 4% .
The thing Dan and I liked most about this wine, was its freshness, perfect as we head into the warmer months, but also because it had a little bit of age to it. We seldom see wines in Australia over 2 years, and you forget what a good wine tastes like after the edges have been “cellared” off. Whilst I cannot say I tasted significant Pinot characters in this wine, with the Cabernet certainly dominate, it is a more medium bodied style than you might expect from a quality Cabernet. However, do not confuse medium bodied with a lack of flavour or complexity. This wine has plenty of both. I know I will be enjoying this wine with some home -made wood fried pizzas over the next few months.
Tomfoolery is a wine name some of the earlier Bullionaires might remember, as we included this wine in one of our earlier Sommelier selections. I love when this happens, as we get to see how the winemakers have progressed and if they have remained consistent in their style. I was glad to see that the wine has if anything improved. Tomfoolery is a name that does not do justice to the effort and work that goes into the wine and winery, as it is a very serious venture. It began back in 2004 by a couple of young winemaking friends, who to be honest are not that young anymore. The Tomfoolery winemaking philosophy is simple: small parcels of fruit, hand-crafted through a simple and relatively non-interventional approach with the aim of reflecting the individual characteristics of the vineyard and variety. Tomfoolery wines are made with old world simplicity in the Barossa Valley, and have always focused on freshness and vitality in their wines, rather than the old-fashioned Barossa Big and bold style.
Dan has chosen the 2017 Tomfoolery Skulduggery Mataro Shiraz. Mataro is what the Barossa community call Mouvedre and this is a juicy fresh and inviting wine. On the medium to full side, with loads of flavour, balanced by the acidity and freshness you want at this time of year.
Rose is the new black. My friends and family are getting a little annoyed with me saying this all the time, but it is true. Rose has grown incredibly in Australia over the past 5 years. It has not been called a Rose Revolution for nothing. Every wine list now has multiple selections rather than the odd dodgy bottle of Mateus Rose, and the wines are now high quality, dry, fresh and elegant. Rose’s ancestral home is in Provence in the South of France and to be honest this is where I tend to find the best quality and value, however Australian winemakers have kicked their Rose production into gear, making some great booze too. In years past it used to be an afterthought to their red and white wine production, but with our insatiable demand, they had to take this wine a lot more seriously.
I have a few rules for Rose, which should steer you down the right path if you like the dry fresh, red berries and cream style. You need to begin with a salmon pink colour. Try to avoid wines with an obvious Red tinge to them. You also really need to be spending above $20 a bottle. I have found the wines under this price favour a higher residual sugar content to mask a lack of quality fruit. I tend to stick to Provence, but do not dismiss the Aussie Rose’s either.
Dan has chosen the 2018 Domaine Pinchinat Cotes du Provence. We have looked at Rose’s for potential selection in the past, however I just could not find a wine I felt justified the price we are charging our members. Sure, the wines were nice, but then so too were a lot of Rose’s at $20 a bottle. This wine really impressed me and is a step above what I have tasted and drunk in the past. It has everything you expect from a good Rose, but it is taken up a notch or two, with the complexity and balance I expect in a quality wine. Red berries and strawberries are everywhere, but it has the creaminess and added texture and palate weight that you don’t often see in run of the mill Roses. They are a smaller producer, with fruit only sourced from their estate and the added quality and elegance really shines through.
Bring on summer and long afternoons with friends, family and these great wines. Thanks Dan and enjoy!
Matt The Bullionaire
Please remember at this time of the year the correct serving temperature of the wine. Red Wines should be 16-18 degrees Celsius. White Wines 8-10 degrees Celsius
Do not be afraid to place your red wines in the fridge for 30-40 minutes before serving. Once decanted at our summer room temperature they will soon be at the correct 16-18 degrees