For those who read our blog on a regular basis you may remember a post from October where we were extolling our rekindled love of Australian wine (for those of you who don’t read our blog on a regular basis – shame on you!). In that blog we forewarned you that we would shortly be bringing all these vinous delights to your attention, I believe I may have even used the phrase “over the next few months”. Unfortunately this fit of overconfidence did overlook one tiny detail called Christmas!
However, once we had Christmas behind us and a chance to recover from the silly season we dusted off our tasting glasses and got down to some serious work in fulfilling that promise. And fortuitously the New Year is a great time for tasting Australian wine. Every January the crème de la crème of the Australian wine industry descends on London for the mammoth Australia Day wine tasting. With somewhere in the region of a thousand of Australia’s best wines, from producers large and small, all under one roof it’s a fantastic hunting ground for the best of what’s out there.
We tasted our way through well over 100 wines on Australia Day alone. On top of this there were many, many more Australian wines sampled at other tastings up and down the country in our hunt for the most characterful, interesting and delicious wines that Australia has to offer. And all this work is now starting to bear fruit, with the first of the wines arriving on the shelf (our recent blog posts New Wines Part 1 and, imaginatively, New Wines Part 2 detail some of the first arrivals).
And there’s more to come. We have the fantastic wines of Matt Gant and John Retsas slowly making their way to us on a slow boat from Australia which should be with us some time in May. Matt and John operate as First Drop Wines and produce irreverent, gloriously appealing wines from across South Australia from their base in the Barossa. First Drop are the very antithesis of the big, corporate winemaker. Engagingly they are represented in the UK by Matt’s mum & dad. Despite their small size and ‘interesting’ approach to label design (you’ll see what I mean when the wines arrive) their wines are regularly garlanded with plaudits by the likes of James Halliday (rated as a 5* winery with 9 wines scoring 91 or more points), Jamie Goode and Matthew Jukes (2 wines in his 100 Best Australian Wines 2014/15). We’ll be back with more details of the goodies in store when we have something approaching a firm arrival date.
In the meantime we have some more treats which should be on the shelves any day now (they only hit the warehouse today). There is a stunning Clare Valley Riesling from Adelina (£19.99). Now I know that Riesling isn’t the most fashionable grape variety currently and I know that this isn’t the cheapest wine that we have on our shelves but believe me this is worth every penny.
This single vineyard Riesling from winemakers Col McBryde and Jennie Gardner screams with class. Its vibrant, lime infused, mineral-spined fruit is backed up by a lovely fullness and great balance. If you haven’t tried Riesling for a while you couldn’t ask for a better reintroduction.
Alternatively, if you like honest, generous, big-hearted reds then you should give The Wishbone Shiraz/Grenache (£9.65) a try. Made by Barossa legend Rolf Binder this is full of warm plum and raspberry fruit, with black cherry, spice and a lick of creamy oak. It’s a big generous, juicy mouthful with bags of fruit and spice which still manages to retain a great vibrancy and liveliness.
To round off this Australian update we have also filled the Hunter Valley shaped hole in our list. We have just had in three wines from Keith Tulloch. Keith is a 4th generation Hunter Valley wine maker who followed up his time at Roseworthy College with stints in some of the Rhône’s great houses, in particular those in Hermitage and Côte Rotie. Keith was keen to take the lessons learned in France back home with him to make wines that truly reflected the traditional methods of great French wines, as well as capturing the essence and character of the local Hunter Valley.
His initial tiny production of 250 cases was hailed by James Halliday who said
I cannot remember being more impressed with an initial release of wines than those. While we haven’t had a chance to taste any of this 1997 vintage we can certainly vouch for the wines that he is currently producing.
Keith Tulloch Semillon 2012 £13.50
Cooler climate Semillon that is lithe and agile with a rewarding combination of lemon and lime fruit and fine structure. Truly revivifying with amazing complexity and a remarkable 10% alcohol
Keith Tulloch Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2012 £17.95
Oak-aged but very far from oak dominated. There is a subtle spice and creaminess, enhanced by some gentle batonage, that only serves to enhance the citrus laced fruit. Woven in are hints of white peach, melon with riper notes of pineapple and pear. Refined, balanced and age-worthy.
Keith Tulloch Shiraz/Viognier 2011 £13.99
A fantastic nose that is really lifted by the addition of 5% of Viognier grapes allowing the floral side of the Shiraz to sing out. This is a wine that really shows the Rhône influences on Keith’s winemaking. Finely nuanced with plenty of concentration yet retaining a real lightness of step and elegance.