Saturday, July 25, 2009
THE WIZARDRY OF OZ
The Australian wine industry has taken a hammering recently after a decade of greedy corporates over planting programmes. These were to chase high volumes and market share particularly in the UK but unfortunately the targets were supermarket specials and promotions and ultimately cheaper sales. The over supply has led to falling grape prices and an unsustainable vineyard industry which is now resulting in growers selling up and moving on. That's the bad news. The good news is that Australia still produces some of the world' s nicest wines. Sure, we have had a flood of over-engineered jammy Shiraz and blowsy Chardonnay but at the top end there are some very affordable gems. Over the last couple of years I have moved away from drinking Australian wines, preferring NZ and European styles. Last night we opened a 2001 Saltrams No. 1 Shiraz. As I was decanting it (into my magic silver funnel), the wonderful aroma of mint, berries and sweet oak floated up. Beautiful. We took the wine to a BYO seafood restaurant in Herne Bay (disappointing - I had a beans and rice dish!). It was everything that the aroma promised. Structured but with an elegant finish. Rich but not porty. This was a truly delicious wine. When we got home we decided to open another Oz red (there were 4 of us), and chose a 2000 Rosemount Balmoral Syrah. The McLaren Vale shiraz was quite different from the Saltrams Barossa Shiraz. It was firmer, more solid and definitely more 'Rhone-like' The Saltrams had sweetness and drinkability , the Rosemount was more for savouring. Both wines punched above their weight and I am now looking forward to further plundering the cellar.