Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wizards of Oz Put to the Test

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wizards of Oz Put to the Test

Article excerpt


AUSTRALIA helped make wine popular in the UK through an intoxicating blend of low prices and quality.

But the innovative Aussies are not resting on their laurels and are constantly changing styles to stay ahead of the pack.

Last month the Australian Government's wine marketing board announced their focus on higher-priced wine - rather than cheap bulk wine - was paying off.

So at a recent tasting entitled 'The Wizards of Oz', I launched into The Wine Society's latest crop of Aussie wines in search of quality, value and surprises. Here's the best of the bunch.

I start with an absolute stunner that's worth every bit of its PS22 price tag. Glenmore Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, from Western Australia, is produced from a vineyard that occupies a small portion of a cattle farm near the cooling Indian Ocean.

It's a classy wine packed with clean, intense aromas of blackcurrant. The taste is equally enticing with flavours of blackcurrant, blackberry, cedar, spice and liquorice with a splash of acidity on a long finish.

Australia imported its first Zinfandel vines from California in the 1970s and judging by McHenry Hohnen Rocky Road Margaret River Zinfandel 2012, they've already mastered making wine from it. That's no surprise given the pedigree of co-owner David Hohnen - the man behind Cape Mentelle and the early success of New Zealand's iconic Cloudy Bay.

Priced PS16, this is the first Australian Zin to pass my lips and what a belter it is. Aromas of strawberry jam, vanilla and spice lead to a soft, intense taste with hints of herbs to add to the fruit.

Another Aussie first for me was the Heartland Langhorne Creek Dolcetto Lagrein 2012 - made by historic South Australian producer Glaetzer Wines. Dolcetto is best known as a red grape from Italy's Piedmont region and Lagrein is a fairly obscure variety from Italy's border with Austria and grown by just 15 producers in Australia. It's a blend I'd never tried before yet it works - very well. The nose is fragrant with plenty of cherry - typical of dolcetto. In the mouth, there's spice, cedar and vanilla making it an excellent match for veal, game and rabbit. …

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