Luke Sullivan is a sommelier in Sydney, and developed a passion for hospitality and wine very early in his life; he attributes this to to always being exposed to if from a young age.
Put simply, the Australian wine industry would not be where it is today had it not been for Australia's classic wine styles. These are the wines that put us on the map both here and around the world. Whilst avant-garde and boundary pushing Australian wine styles are exciting and have a potentially thrilling future, there will always be room on the shelf, in the cellar and on wine lists for our classics.
Why do we love Australia's classic wine styles?
I think Australians have a genuine appreciation and affection for Australian wine. I see it almost everyday in my work at Aria Restaurant in Sydney. That support and innate love we have for produce from our own backyard is a great foundation for the Australian wine industry. Like almost any wine region around the world the wine usually matches the food, which usually matches the people and the culture. And yes, we are a young nation but I don’t think we are an exception to the rule.It may be a cliché that food and wine go hand-in-hand, but at the end of the day it’s a cliché for a reason. A Limestone Coast sirloin steak simply cries out to be matched with a Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon; a succulent fillet of Cone Bay barramundi matches so well with a Margaret River Chardonnay. The character of our people and our lifestyle is what ties it all together.Another factor is the love and passion our winemakers have for their regions and for the wines that come from those regions. It is a remarkable thing. If you get lucky and get the chance to share a glass of 1999 Majella Coonawarra Cabernet with local legend ‘The Prof’ a.k.a Brian Lynn in-situ then you’ll truly understand how important and special these wines are.Another reason we love classic Australian wine styles is because of their ageing-ability. The vast majority of our classic wines are drunk too young, they can be fruit-forward with high acid and prominent oak but if you get the chance to see these wines after 20, 30 even 40 years they can be astonishing wines.
What is the future of Australia's classic wine styles?
While Australians have a strong love for our classic styles I also think we need to be more open to change and evolution in our classic Australian wine styles. We hold a unique position in Australia in being such a young grape growing country. The fact is that we are still exploring our soils and regions, finding out which grape varieties flourish where and what the best winemaking techniques are. The potential that we still have as a country is awe-inspiring. The freedom our winemakers have to experiment and push boundaries without the restriction of appellation laws is exciting and we need to keep an open mind and be receptive to the evolution of Australia’s fine wines.It is my belief that, in true Australian spirit, we must know and love Australia’s classic wine styles. We should pay homage to the winemakers of the past and truly appreciate that these wines built the foundations of the Australian wine community. But at the same time we must be open to shifts in styles. We can be genuinely excited about our prospects, with the evolution of Australian wine ensuring a bright and fascinating future.
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