Mediterranean varieties with an Australian flair

07 Apr 2016
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Exploring Australia’s alternative varieties is the start of an exciting new Australian wine chapter, according to UK trade, who say this week’s tasting was a unique showcase of the evolution of Australian wine.

The Alternative Varieties Tasting in Australia House used 100 wines to show the UK trade another side of Australian winemaking innovation.

Wine expert and TV presenter Olly Smith said he is excited by the ‘audacity’ behind Australia’s alternative varieties alongside its ‘limitless enthusiasm for what’s possible’.

‘The tasting showed that the story of Australian wine has, in a sense, barely begun,’ he said.

‘Inspired by heritage and tradition, this new chapter of stellar quality, innovation and exciting pockets of characterful wine growing show that the future for Australian wine looks uniquely dynamic and dazzling.

‘From its base in the independent sector and on top wine lists, I can only see the popularity of alternative varieties growing. In fact, I think we’ll pretty soon get to the point where ‘alternative’ feels like the norm in Australian wine.’

The Alternative Varieties Tasting featured wines produced from such grapes as Verdicchio, Gewürztraminer and Montepulciano. The Fianos, Grüner Veltliners and Sangioveses were of particular interest, while guests were impressed by the rarer examples of Barbera and Petit Manseng.

Alternative varieties account for 4.5 per cent of Australia’s wine producing vineyard area and many winemakers are exploring how these varieties can be used to express a sense of place.

This Wine Australia tasting followed September’s Premium Australia Tasting which featured an Italian varieties spotlight of 50 wines, hosted in collaboration with 21st Century Vino.

Head of Market UK and Europe Laura Jewell MW said that the strong interest in both tastings suggested the UK trade is becoming increasingly fascinated with the new wave of Australian winemaking.

‘Production of these varieties is growing rapidly, and with a clearer understanding of how they suit the regional terroir, and the increased vine age, we are seeing wines with clarity of flavour and finesse,’ she said.

‘The structure, complexity and character are uniquely Australian while maintaining the flavour and style of the individual varieties.’

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