We all know Australian wine. It’s big, its well-extracted Shiraz and Chardonnay from the Barossa Valley and Western Australia. It makes some great wines that are pretty good value for money, but it’s not exactly food-friendly, right? Yes, that’s it, Australian wine is just that, no more, no less. Oh, and look, today’s New York Times has a headline about the upcoming inauguration of George W Bush and how defeated candidate Al Gore won’t be attending…
Australian wine: All change, please
That was then, this is now. Over the last 15 years or so Australian wine has undergone seismic changes, and the once common perception of ‘sunshine in a bottle’ wines has become as outdated as AOL CD-ROMs. In keeping with its long history of evolution, the Aussie wine scene has been transformed as a clutch of new winemakers continue to build on the achievements of their forebears, bringing forth new wines from new varieties and even new regions. Gone are the days of over-extraction, the zeal for new oak has been tempered and winemakers are now obsessing about what people wants to pair with their food rather than what the critics want to put in their articles. This is a thrilling time for Australian wine and on 13 September, Wine Australia will be giving New Yorkers the chance to enjoy some classic Australian wines in conjunction with some fabulous food at the ‘Taste of Australia’ event.
Taste of Australia: What’s on offer?
The Taste of Australia event forms part of Aussie Wine Week in the US this September and promises to be a voyage of discovery for lovers of fine wine. With 65 wine regions supporting over 100 different grape varieties, Australia has a greater level of vineyard diversity than practically any other New World wine nation. Of course, categorising a country that has been making wine since the 1820s as ‘new’ is part of the misnomer that is Australian wine’s reputation in the States, and its long history has allowed it to hone its craft and become home to some of the world’s most revered fine wines.
Classic wines old and new
The tasting will showcase classic whites from household names such as Penfolds Bin 51 Riesling from the cool Clare Valley alongside that definitive Western Australian blend of Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon from Cape Mentelle. Classic Australian reds will also be out in force, with Peter Lehman’s Cabernet Sauvignon showing the elegance and breed of modern day Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon while Ninth Island’s Pinot Noir exemplifies how far Tasmanian Pinot Noir has come in the last 30 years.
Proudly standing shoulder-to-shoulder with these established classics will be some of the best of the new breed of Australian wines. This diverse bunch includes wines that have been produced in cool climates, that have been created using innovative grape varieties or which have eschewed the use of oak to allow the wines to reflect a taste of place. Tasting these wines can be revelatory. Take BK Wines One Ball Chardonnay for example. Produced in the coolness of the Adelaide Hills by Kiwi Brendan Keys, this fresh, richly textured, elegant offering is a million miles from the Aussie Chardonnays old and has been created with food in mind. Or how about the Brash Higgins Nero d’Avola. The McLaren Vale is perfectly suited to the so-called Mediterranean varieties and this wine shows warmth and depth without being huge or ponderous. The amazing and diverse wines on show include:
- Frankland Estate IR Riesling
- Eden Road Tumbarumba Chardonnay
- Running with Bulls Tempranillo
- Hentley Farm Shiraz
- Tolpuddle Chardonnay
- Penfolds Bin 51 Riesling
- Howard Park Miamup Chardonnay
- Brash Higgins Nero d'Avola
- Torbreck Woodcutter's Shiraz
- Tolpuddle Pinot Noir
- Alkoomi Riesling
- BK Wines One Ball Chardonnay
- Ninth Island Pinot Noir
- Fowles LWSTL Shiraz
- Henry's Drive Magnus Shiraz
- Cape Mentelle SBS
- Rob Dolan True Colours White
- Ocean Eight Pinot Noir
- Peter Lehmann Cabernet Sauvignon
- Henschke Keyneton Euphonium
- Cullen Ephraim Clark SBS
- Tahbilk Marsanne
- Cirillo Vincent Grenache
- John Duval Annexus Grenache
- Grossett Polish Hill Riesling
- Shaw + Smith Sauvignon Blanc
- Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier
- Paxton Graciano
- Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz
- Leeuwin Art Series Chardonnay
Food glorious food!
This is not going to be your usual tasting - unless you’re lucky enough to have your usual tasting lining-up top chefs to creating mouth-watering dishes that complement the wines on show, that is. Wine and food go together like fun and laughter, and at Taste of Australia we’re going to have all these elements in abundance. This funky, informal event will show how food-friendly Australian wine has become; not by talking about alcohol levels or by holding discussions on barrel ageing but by putting great wine with great food in a great atmosphere.
You’ll be able to try a stellar collection of wines with freshly prepared menus created by guest chefs from some of New York’s favourite Aussie-owned restaurants; Flinders Lane, Lucky Bee, Two Hands Dante and Burke and Wills. So, join us and see how Lucky Bee’s Pork and Sesame Dumpling with Chinese Black Vinegar goes with a glass Bin 51 Riesling. Or enjoy Burke & Wills’ Australian Lamb Chop, Sunchoke Puree, Pomegranate and Mint Gastrique alongside the Ocean Eight Pinot Noir or the spicy Running with Bulls Tempranillo. With the likes of Matty Bennett, Rupert Noff, Giles Russell, Rodrigo Nogueira, Chris Rendell and Ryan Butler offering menus, this is going to be a real feast for the senses.
Australian wine in the US: The second golden age
Australian wine is firmly back on the ascendancy in the US. Between the evolving incarnations of established classics and the exciting, cutting-edge wines that are being produced by new winemakers in new wine regions, more and more American wine lovers are discovering the beauty and brilliance that is modern Australian wine. According to recent export figures from Wine Australia, Australian wine imports to the United States hit their highest levels since 2012 this year, growing by 3% to US$367 million. A significant driver of this growth was the increased demand for fine wines, with imports of wine around $15 a liter increasing by 21% to US$34 million. The wines being presented at Taste of Australia will prove why the market is flourishing – especially in New York where imports of wines over $15 per liter have increased by an extraordinary 58%.
The Taste of Australia is going to be a relaxed, informal and fun event; a celebration of the best in Australian wine and food that will be a real eye-opener for many. Oh, one last thing: Australians are more than welcome to attend, we just ask that you bring an American with you. Well we can’t have all the fun, can we?
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