ALISTAIR GIBSON: Some show-stealing, elegant wines from a land Down Under
One of my favourite wine events every year is when renowned wine critic Matthew Jukes unveils his annual 100 Best Australian Wines report.
Hosted at the Australian High Commission, Australia House, London, it is always a great snapshot of the current state of Australian wines.
This year, for me, it was the white and sparkling wines that really stole the show, showing how much the style of many white wines has changed in the past decade or so.
More elegance and less oak (or at least better-judged oak) are the thoughts I took away with me.
So here are some current Aussie whites I’ve tasted during the last month that are worth seeking out.
Jansz Premium Rosé NV, Tasmania (£16 Ocado, £18 oddbins.com) has long been one of my go-to pink fizzes.
It is made in the cool climate of Tasmania, without doubt the best region for sparkling wines in Australia.
This is so pretty in the glass, pale pink in colour with a fine bead of bubbles rising from the bottom of the glass.
There are red fruits on the bouquet, almost strawberries and cream, and a touch of orange peel, followed by a silky mouth feel with beautifully balanced acidity.
Compared to many sparkling wines at this price it really over-delivers and makes a gorgeous aperitif or maybe a match for some soft summer red fruits after a barbecue.
Australian riesling is one of the most food-friendly wines I can think of.
In general it’s drier than its German counterparts and usually less austere than Alsace rieslings.
Pikes Traditionale Riesling 2016, Clare Valley (£16.75 winedirect.co.uk, £18.65 frontierfinewines.co.uk) is a little more restrained than many Aussie rieslings, and in many ways all the better for it.
Pale green in colour, this is quite understated with lime, apple and minerals on the nose.
The palate is crisp with more citrus notes, bone dry and a long, graceful, mouth-tingling finish.
Try this with some Thai-inspired dishes or some simple seafood. McGuigan Bin 9000 Semillion 2016, Hunter Valley (£13.98 Asda) is a great example of what is in many ways an Australian classic, Hunter Valley semillion.
I’m never sure why so many Australian wineries feel the need to label their wines with bin numbers, which seem to mean nothing to the consumer.
But, nonetheless, this multi award-winning wine is a great introduction to this style of wine.
The nose shows citrus, pear, cut grass, a little honey and some minerals.
The palate is very smooth and clean with more citrus and zippy acidity and a nice textured finish.
If you enjoy sauvignon blanc this an interesting alternative wine to try.
It is very accessible and enjoyable now, but Hunter Valley semillion has an amazing ability to age and evolve into something altogether different, taking on toast and honey characters.
Try this now with some simply grilled fish or put it away if you can for another six years and taste something altogether different.
n Alistair Gibson is proprietor of Hermitage Cellars, Emsworth. Call (01243) 431002 or e-mail [email protected]