Monday, June 23, 2008

Report from ... Discover Australia "A World of Difference" – June 11, 2008

I have to admit that some of these events I go into knowing full well that none of the wines I recommend will be available at your local liquor store (especially not the LCBO – maybe in other parts of the world but not here). That’s because the winery is agentless and even if they find representation at this show it’ll be awhile before you’ll see their wines on our shelves, or through consignment or private order. That also means that the 2005 Shiraz I recommend today will turn into the 2007 Shiraz when it’s finally available here in Ontario. I know, it’s incredibly frustrating – trust me, I feel your pain – I’m the one trying them and even if I wanna get them, I can’t … you’re just reading about how good it is – I actually know. Knowledge might be power, but power sucks when you can’t do anything with it. So until we get another system to bring booze into our province we’re stuck with the short end of the distribution stick.

Today 15 unrepresented wineries from Down Under invaded the Royal York’s Imperial Room in the hopes of scoring themselves an agent, and the opportunity to sell wines in Ontario. I know for a fact that a couple were successful now it’s up t the LCBO to say “yes”. Below is a list of my favourites with a few of their wines that turned me favourably in their direction – let’s hope they were able to turn an agent’s head in the process, so that you too can experience some of these stellar wines.

Beelgara (New South Wales) – good value wines up and down the line from The Vines Shiraz/Cabernet/Merlot to the Winemakers Black Shiraz and the Regional Cabernet Sauvignon.

Linfield Road Wines (South Australia) – they poured both their 2004 and 2005 wines; my favourites were from the 2005 line-up: The Stubborn Patriarch Shiraz, Black Hammer Cabernet Sauvignon and Slab Hut Merlot/Shiraz/Cabernet … all very good single vineyard wines.

Chateau Mildura (Victoria) – they have a European-style label on these new world wines. Real winners included the Psyche Reserve Shiraz and the Psyche Smuggler Petit Verdot.

Galli Estate (Victoria) – they have a Heathcote Shiraz Viognier that proved quite lovely and their Heathcote Block Two Shiraz was also very appealing. They also have a Sunbury line of wines, but I found the Heathcote wines more my speed especially for what I’m looking for in an Aussie wine. The Sunbury is more of a maritime climate while Heathcote is all heat – these really are two very distinct wines from the same winery, even if the grapes read the same on the label. I am told you should look for wines from Galli in the spring of 2009.

Gentle Annie (Victoria) – if there is any justice in the world Annie has found herself an Ontario mate. What can you say about a winery that both barrel ages and bottle ages their wines. The current vintage is the 2003 and both the straight Cabernet Sauvignon and 60/40 Shiraz/Cabernet blend are truly outstanding … these ones would be worth picking-up if only they were here. Here’s hoping that happens soon.

Giant Steps / Innocent Bystander (Victoria) – a tasty pink Moscato proved enticing to the palate, as well as a wild ferment Sexton Vineyard Chardonnay.

Vin 888 (Victoria) – showed off some of the best sweet stuff at the show, and a few dry babies too. A Verdelho, an Autumn Harvest Muscat Blanc, Autumn Harvest Riesling, and a Big Fella Cabernet-Merlot. Of all the dessert wines, the 10-year-old Tokay proved dessert-worthy all on its own, while the Muscat Blanc would have paired well with lighter desserts.

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