By Bob Lipinski
When the subject of wines from Australia is brought up, most people think of “critter” (Yellow Tail) labels, “fruit-bomb” Shiraz and over-oaked Chardonnay. Australia produces some excellent Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and even sparkling wines.
Australia is a grape-growing country that is slightly smaller than the United States. Australia is divided into six grape-growing states (in descending order of production); South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania, and Queensland. Wine is also made (to a lesser degree) in the Northern Territory. Within each state Australian appellations are subdivided into zones, regions, subregions, and GI (geographical indications).
(Australian wine law, established in 1990)
- Vintage Dated: Wines must be made from a minimum of 85% of the stated vintage.
- Varietal Wine: Wines must be made from a minimum of 85% of the stated grape variety.
- Blend: A blend must state the dominant grape variety first.
- Denomination of Origin: If a place of origin appears on the labels, wines must be made from a minimum of 85% from that location.
- Chaptalization: Adding sugar to the unfermented grape juice is prohibited.
Growing Season Australia experiences a growing season that is six months ahead of the Northern Hemisphere’s. The vintage listed on an Australian wine is the year in which the grapes were harvested, not the year in which the growing season began.
There are many good to excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines made in Australia. Six wines I recently tasted are below.
2015 Leeuwin Estate “Art Series” Chardonnay (Margaret River, Western Australia). Light yellow color with a bouquet of melon, tropical fruit and butter with citrus and green apple flavors.
2017 Bindi “Kostas Rind” Chardonnay (Macedon Ranges, Victoria). Bouquet and flavor of ripe pineapple, melon, toasted bread and hints of oak.
2016 By Farr Farrside Vineyard Pinot Noir (Geelong, Victoria). Ruby-color with a full bouquet of cranberry, plums, raisins, spices, and hints of coffee with a tart-berry aftertaste.
2016 Timo Mayer “Close Planted” Pinot Noir (Yarra Valley, Victoria. Cherry color with a bouquet brimming with berries, sour cherry, cola, and spices.
2015 Moorooduc Estate, Pinot Noir (Mornington Peninsula, Victoria) Bouquet and flavors of blackberry, blueberry, and eucalyptus. Medium-bodied with a delicious tart-berry aftertaste.
2016 Eden Road Pinot Noir (Tumbarumba, New South Wales). Full bouquet of raspberries, strawberries and candied fruit. Soft in the mouth with hints of earth and mint.
Recommended cheeses for Chardonnay. Camembert, Cheddar, Edam, Emmentaler, Manchego, Port-Salut
Recommended cheeses for Pinot Noir. Brie, Comté, Époisses de Bourgogne, Gouda, Gruyère, Monterey Jack