Proctor : June 2018
53 PROCTOR | June 2018 When the long Queensland summer has finally slipped away and the hounds of winter bay at the door, our thoughts usually turn to our favourite red wines. However, this brass monkey season perhaps it is time to consider some alternative red varieties to warm the cockles. This winter, why not leave our old friends – like shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and GMS blends – in the wine cupboard to mature for another season, and try some of the alternatives? Adventure may be only a cork away! While there is always a certain safety in reaching for Barossa or McLaren Vale shiraz, or Coonawarra or Margaret River cabernets, some of your other options might include: Malbec – This variety comes from Bordeaux region and makes the magical ‘black wine’ of Cahors. However, away from Europe a new malbec has found a spiritual apogee in Argentina, particularly from the high valleys of Mendoza. Expect a full-bodied wine with violets and vanilla on the palate. The Granite Belt makes a fine malbec too and golden child Golden Grove is a reference. Syrah – OK, so we call it shiraz, but the French name usually describes a very different beast from the same grape. French syrah from Côte-Rôtie, Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage and St Joseph is nothing like our shiraz, with its stronger structure and less sweet fruit. Across the pond they often label their wines syrah (presumably to avoid disappointment for Australian consumers to whom the lighter style would come as a shock). At home, some of our producers deliberately label a syrah to signal a different, usually lighter, style. Durif – Sometimes called ‘petite sirah’, this is a very different beast to its parent, syrah. Durif wines are often bold, fighting wines with tannin, body and bounce to please the heartiest McLaren Vale shiraz lover. In Australia, the hot fields of Rutherglen make excellent, titanic durif that can live longer than its bottle. Tannat – This is another great cassoulet wine from south-west France and most accessible in a wine called madiran. The grapes have very thick skins which permit a great deal of extract in the wine. This tannic monster is all substance and, with a few years of mellowing, quite some style. At home, Boirean – from our beloved Granite Belt – makes some for those lucky enough to score a bottle. Nebbiolo – Here’s an Italian variety with a big personality. In its native lands it makes the weighty and long-lived wines of Barolo. Sometimes described as tar and roses, with some time for the tannin to soften, complexity emerges and it sings. In Australia we have seen many of the new Italian-styled wineries from the King Valley in Victoria and other places jump on board, and so should you. Also worth a try is nebbiolo’s little brother, barbera (see the tasting notes below). Amarone or, more properly, amarone della valpolicella – This is an Italian powerhouse of flavour and depth. Made near Verona, it is a red wine made from partially dried grapes, thereby increasing the skin-to-pulp ratio, permitting greater tannin extract and reducing the amount of water involved, increasing sugars and therefore alcohol. While a little determined in price from the manual labour involved in desiccating grapes before winemaking, good amarone stands right beside any Australian big reds. Don’t leave a bottle lonely on a shelf in Australia, it is quite a find. The first was the McWilliams Canberra Appellation 2015 Syrah, which was the familiar purple red hue of shiraz. The nose was not typical shiraz but cherries and violets. The palate was quite a revelation, with violets, vanilla and plum giving way to a little white pepper on the mid palate and a rousing savoury spice tinge as it trailed on. Very different to have the flavour grow rather than the usual shiraz fruity attack and decline. The second was the Fontanabianca Barbera D’Alba DOC 2015, which was red black with a line of orange. The nose was blueberries, mountain ceps, forest floor and dusty tannins. The palate was sweet fruit drive which gave way to a tannic dry burst somewhere in the middle and then went on to become overgrown by earthy forest. The last was the home favourite of the Golden Grove Granite Belt Malbec 2016, which was a space-truckin’ deep purple. The nose was a heavenly sweet floral bouquet of violets and spice. The palate was a mix of savoury spice sitting on a pyramid of structural tannin filled with violet flowers and Madagascar vanilla. Easily the equal of anything Mendoza has produced and much more affordable. Verdict: The surprise packet was the syrah but the sentimental favourite took it for the sheer quality, structure and goodness of the Golden Grove. In the words of the man in the hat, do yourself a favour... The tasting Matt Dunn is Queensland Law Society government relations principal advisor. Wine Winter? There is a choice! with Matthew Dunn A few interesting big red offerings were examined for the comfort of the cooler season.