Doug Slaon

Summery wines from the land downunder…

Tough to find an Australian Cabernet that could be more beautifully Barossa and more true to the variety’s heritage downunder

If we are to believe the Australian Grape and Wine Authority – and why wouldn’t we? – wine grape vines first arrived in Australia with the First Fleet in 1788.

After a sticky few years of battling heat and humidity at Sydney Cove, significant vineyards were established near Parramatta in 1805 by Gregory Blaxland and near Camden in 1820 by William Macarthur.

James Busby became involved in viticulture around 1825 and in 1831 he went to Europe and collected 650 varieties.  More than half survived the journey and were planted in the Botanical Gardens in Sydney.

The Hunter Valley was the first commercial region with Wyndham Estate being established in 1828 and by the 1840’s viticulture was established by Italians in Riverina, Swiss in Victoria, Dalmatians in Western Australia and Lutheran Germans in South Australia, particularly the Barossa and Clare Valleys.

When founders Filippo and Maria Casella immigrated to Australia from Sicily in 1957, they dreamt of building a winery where their family could work and prosper together.

They never could have anticipated that from such humble beginnings, Casella Family Brands would become the success it is today.

Out of the Cassella vineyards in the Riverina and growing by leaps and bounds between 2000 and 2004 [Yellow Tail] Shiraz came from nowhere to become the best-selling imported red wine in North America. Still selling strongly, Yellow Tail wines are remarkably easy to enjoy.  Soft, rich and fruity up front, this is a crowd-pleasing family of wines.

For the rest of this month select private liquor stores are selling [Yellow Tail] Chardonnay (627802), [Yellow Tail] Cabernet Sauvignon (56473) and the legendary [Yellow Tail] Shiraz for $8.30.  Too good of a deal not to hunt ‘em down, cobbers!

Established  in the Hunter Valley in 1843 Lindeman’s Is now a major Australian producer.

An unusual offering, Lindeman`s `Early Harvest` Pinot Grigio (220459) $10.15 treads lightly.

Low in calories it is also low in alcohol at 8.5 per cent.  All floral and tropical nuances with ripe apple and nashi apple flavours, this is a very pretty little white.

Thanks to the success of wines like [Yellow Tail] Shiraz, we tend to think of Shiraz first when we think about Australian red wines. Although Syrah was originally called Shiraz in Australia and Syrah elsewhere, its dramatic commercial success has led many Syrah producers around the world to label their wines ‘Shiraz’.

From the Mildura region of Victoria, Australia Woolshed Shiraz (396838) $11.99 is brimming with aromas and flavours of plums, blackberries, cinnamon and dark chocolate.

The bang for the buck ratio of this medium bodied mouth-filling red is amazing – it has to be tasted to be believed!

From magical McLaren Vale, the wizards at Fullglass Wines in Linden Park, South Australia have conjured up a bit of a monster.  On the rowdier side of the road Punch In The Face Shiraz (859884) $17.90 is remarkably rich – even for a Shiraz from Oz!

Weighing in at an admitted 16 per cent alcohol by volume, this is a hearty mouthful of ripe red cherry, plum and blackcurrant.

Pewsey Vale Vineyard’s love affair with Riesling started in 1847, when their vineyard was the first planted in the Eden Valley.

Pioneers in high altitude, cool climate Riesling in Australia, they produce three distinct single vineyard wines.

Refreshingly dry, with a whiff of ‘petrol’ Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling (617126) $22.35 exhibits intense aromas of talcum and lemon lime fruit, with a fine floral perfume overlaying dried herbs. The palate shows sizzles with limes, white flowers and fresh rosemary.

In 1842 a 32 year old blacksmith, Christian Auricht, arrived in Australia from Prussia with his wife and four children.

He settled in the new hamlet of Langmeil in the Barossa Valley and built a blacksmith shop, around which grew the trading area of the village and provides the aesthetics for the winery to this day.

Tough to find an Australian Cabernet that could be more beautifully Barossa and more true to the variety’s heritage downunder than Langmeil Blacksmith Cabernet Sauvignon (564468) $32.90.

Seductive aromas of blueberries, blackcurrants, mint and black olives slide seamlessly into flavours that echo the aromatics with a hint of mint and a medley of ripe plum, blackberry and blackcurrant flavours.

Time to rediscover the wines of Oz!


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