Sunday, October 19, 2008

Report from ... South Australia "Master Class" – October 8, 2008

On October 8th the Australians came to town, but not in their usual big-tasting-take-over-an-entire-ballroom type of way, this time it was a small media and the agent tasting event they termed as "Regional Heroes Master Class " ... these were wines that had been submitted to and then picked by a panel in an effort to find the quintessential wines that best represent this area (South Australia) and different varietals. They shied us away from Shiraz in an effort to show us that other varietals are made in Australia and made well – but in the end it was the Shirazes that shone through.

A few tidbits about south Australia before we get to the wine ... 50 percent of all Australian wine comes from South Australia and 70 percent of all exports. Next in line is New South Wales at 37% of all wines made. The quote of the day came from the government minister in charge of this foray into Canada, he said, "wine is an experience and needs a story. Good wine is being made everywhere, but people want a story to go with it. We plan to give it to them." Canada is Australia's third biggest market ... Ontario is its number one market for value wines.

When we entered we were presented with a DiGorgio 2007 Sparkling Pinot Noir ($15.00 AUS) it had a nice salmon color with apples, citrus and cherry on the nose, while in the mouth there was a subtle taste of sweet raspberry ... quite refreshing for an afternoon bubbly.

We were then taken through an array of three whites: a Pinot Grigio and two Rieslings, then it was onto the reds, a Tempranillo and then the three wines that really stood out.

Penley Estate 2005 ‘Chertsey’ (Cabernet Sauvignon/Franc and Merlot) - $50.00
From Coonawarra … sweet vanilla, cinnamon and red cherry on the nose; juicy fruits, like black cherry, along with tobacco and fine tannins on the palate. Good long finish.

Wirra Wirra 2006 RSW Shiraz - $45-50.00
McLaren Vale … best wine of the afternoon - nose was mint, sweet cherry and mocha, the palate showed smooth chocolate, juicy red cherry, soft vanilla cedar and almost imperceptible, silky smooth tannins … wow!

Elderton Wines 2004 Command Shiraz - $89.95
Barossa Valley … needs time to come into its own, in the course of two hours it changed from something undrinkable into something robust with white pepper notes … it has the potential to sit for a decade or more (so says the winemaker).

For a region (country) that wanted to push us away from thinking of them as a one-trick Shiraz pony they steered me back towards what made Australia famous, that Wirra Wirra Shiraz was simply amazing.

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