Languedoc varieties in Australia
I went to the enormous Australia trade tasting for the first time since well before Covid and again, applied the same approach as I had for Chile – look for wines with Languedoc grape varieties. However, I ignored pure Shiraz as I would have simply overwhelmed for choice and concentrated on blends and Grenache for reds, and some single varietal whites. Unlike Chile, Carignan was noticeable by its absence. And I found some delicious things, some from familiar wine growers as well as some new discoveries. Prices are recommended retail price per bottle
2021 Berton Vineyard Winemakers Reserve Riverland Vermentino - £11.99
A very convincing example of Vermentino. Some fresh pithy fruit on the nose and palate. Refreshing acidity on the finish.
2020 Tahbilk Nagambie Lakes Marsanne - £14.25
a little colour. Light nose and on the palate, lightly butter fruit with satisfyingly rounded texture.
2014 Tahbilk Museum Release Nagambie Lake Marsanne - £17.49
A light golden colour. Quite a firm dry, slatey nose and on the palate savoury notes, with good mouthfeel, layers of flavour and lots of nuances. Tahbilk does have a reputation for its Marsanne and this wine show exactly why.
2013 Tahbilk 1927 Vines Nagambie Lakes, Marsanne - £26.99
Australia does have a surprising number of old vineyards and this one was planted in 1927. Medium colour. Quite a firm leesy note. And the palate quite firm and dry, with good texture and some leesy notes. Good length but more austere then the previous wine. Ageing elegantly.
2021 Koerner Pigato Clare Valley Vermentino - £30.00
Pigato is a variation of Vermentino. Light colour. Lightly savoury and herbal on the nose and on the palate quite tight knit with good acidity. Firm, dry and herbal.
The same producer was also showing an intriguing blend of Sangiovese, Grenache, Sciacarello, Malbec and Carignan. Sciacarello is a very Corsican variety, not usually found anywhere else. But the wine was still very young and not really yet knit together.
Sigurd Red Bland Barossa Valley Grenache, Carignan, Syrah, Mourvèdre - £32.00
Medium colour. Quite a rounded nose with red fruit and on the palate, some peppery tannin. Freeh and youthful.
2020 Aphelion Welkin McLaren Vale Grenache - £21.00
Welkin is the vineyard. Pale red in colour. Light cherry fruit on both the nose and palate. Quite elegant and fresh with cherry fruit, and a balance of acidity and tannin.
2020 Ministry of Clouds McLaren Vale Grenache - £32.00
Medium colour. Elegant fresh cherry fruit on both nose and palate. A nicely rounded palate. Lightly fleshy with very good fruit. Nice balanced. Harmonious and ripe, with a tannic streak. One of stars of the tasting, showing just how suited the McLaren Vale is for Grenache.
2021 d’Arenberg, the Money Spider, McLaren Vale, Roussanne – £15.95
Rounded fruit ion the nose and palate. With some herbal notes and a hint of honey. Nicely balanced, and quite an elegant finish.
2018 Swinney Farvie Frankland River (Great Southern) Grenache - £88.00
Quite a deep colour. Fresh cherry fruit on the nose, and palate, with some weight and substance on the palate. Lovely fruit and nicely mouth filling. Though I am not sure how they justify the price.
2021 Teusner Avatar Barossa Valley Grenache Syrah Mataro - £18.95
Medium colour. Quite firm and structured. Some oak and hints of vanilla. Sturdy and youthful. Good fruit but a tad alcoholic on the finish.
2019 Teusner The Dog Strangler Barossa Valley Mataro - £17.50
Dog Strangler is apparently one of the many synonyms for Mataro or Mourvèdre. And this is pure Mourvèdre. Quite a deep colour. Quite a firm, sturdy nose. Youthful red fruit with a hint of oak. Rounded fruit and satisfying weight. Good youthful balance.
2020 Thorn-Clarke Single Vineyard Selection Barossa - £17.99
Medium colour. Quite a solid nose. And on the palate quite solid and rounded with dense ripe fruit and rich 15°. Surprisingly fresh fruit, despite the alcohol. Grenache Noir may be the next new thing in the Barossa Valley, which of course is much better known for its Shiraz or Syrah.
2018 Thorn-Clarke ‘Shotfire Barossa Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre - £15.99
Quite deep colour. Quite a sturdy nose. And the palate ripe spicy fruit. Very southern.
2019 Smalltown Vineyards The Songlines Barossa Valley Grenache - £14.50
Quite light colour. Firm dry red fruit. Nicely spicy. Medium weight.
2019 Smalltown Vineyards Clovella Barossa Valley Grenache Mourvèdre - £17.00
Quite a light colour. Quite firm dry, savoury fruit on both nose and palate. A balancing tannic streak on the finish.
2019 Yalumba ‘Samuel’s Collection’ Barossa Grenache - £17.99
Medium colour. Very elegant fresh cherry fruit and nose and palate. Medium weight. Nicely ethereal, and certainly not tasting of. 14°. I liked this a lot.
2017 Yalumba Tri-Centenary Barossa Valley Grenache - £42.99
Medium colour. Quite a firm dry nose. Quite sturdy, but at the same time elegant, with dry savoury notes.
2018 Yalumba The Virgilius Eden Valley Viognier - £42.990
Yalumba were the pioneers of Viognier in Australia. The wine spends ten months in barrel and there is some oak on the nose. The palate has good weight and is rounded and textured. Ripe and peachy but restrained. A very successful Viognier.
2018 Torbreck Vintners Old Vines Barossa Valley Grenache - £17.99
Medium colour. Quite a fresh but firm red fruit nose. Quite a sold ripe palate with red fruit. Quite rich and mouth filling with a balancing tannic streak. The old vines are anything between 40 and 150 years old.
Torbreck Vintners Cuvée Juveniles Barossa Valley, Grenache, Mataro, Shiraz - £21.99
Medium colour. Rounded ripe fruit. Medium weight. Fresh red fruit. Kept in stainless vat and some 540 litre barrels. They have also planted Counoise and Carignan.
Torbreck Vintners The Steading Barossa Valley Grenache, Shiraz Mataro - £34.99
Medium colour. Quite fresh spice and on the palate medium weight, despite the 15°alcohol. Red fruit and peppery with a tannic streak. Another favourite.
2020 Grounded Cru McLaren Vale Grenache - £11.99
80-year-old vines. Quite fragrant ripe rich fruit. Ripe and juicy on the palate with liqueur cherry fruit. 14.5° Delicious.
2020 Grounded Cru McLaren Vale Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre - £11.99
Medium colour. Tighter than the pure Grenache. Nicely structured palate with good fruit and tannin.
2019 Head Wines 'Head Red' Barossa Valley Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre - £22.00
Medium colour. Quite a firm nose. Fresh ripe fruit on the palate, balanced with tannin and some acidity. Medium weight.
2019 Head Wines Old Vine Barossa Valley Grenache - £28.50
Medium colour. Quite a solid ripe and dense on both nose and palate, with rounded fruit on the palate, with quite a sturdy finish. Youthful with ageing potential.
2018 The Octogenarian Grenache McLaren Vale
Aged in old oak. Ripe cherry fruit. Rounded and ripe with a streak of tannin and southern spice. A lovely glass of wine from old vines.
2019 Grant Burge Holy Trinity Barossa Valley Grenache Shiraz Mataro - £25.99
Medium colour. Rounded ripe spicy fruit on nose and palate. Medium weight. A streak of tannin of the finish. Nicely mouth filling.
2020 Robert Oatley Signature Series G20 McLaren Vale Grenache - £14.00
Unoaked. Light red in colour. Very fragrant on both nose and palate. Very fresh. Nicely rounded fresh cherry fruit. Delicious.
2019 Robert Oatley Hancock & Hancock McLaren Vale Shiraz Grenache - £15.00
Deep colour. Quite firm and sturdy on the nose and on the palate solid ripe oak. Needs time. I preferred the pure Grenache.
2020 Langmeil Three Gardens White Barossa Valley Viognier Marsanne - £17.00
Quite fragrant with hints of peach and herbal nose. Quite juicy with a fresh finish. Not a blend that I have ever encountered in the Languedoc.
2018 Langmeil The Fifth Wave Barossa Valley Grenache - £35.00
Quite a light colour. Quite a fragrant nose and palate. Lovely refreshing red fruit, with a little weight on the finish but you wold never suspect it of 15°. Delicious.
Yarra Yering Dry Red No 2 Yarra Valley Shiraz Viognier Mourvèdre - £57.00
Quite a deep colour, with a little development. Rounded spice on the nose and supple tannins on the palate. Quite fleshy ripe and rounded. For the record Yarra Yering No 1 is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot.
2019 Yarra Yering New Territories Yarra Valley Shiraz Touriga - £39.00
Deep colour. Firm and structured with acidity and tannin. Tight peppery Shiraz with 30% Touriga, which adds to the structure.
2019 Brash Higgens MCC McLaren Vale Mataro Cinsaut Carignan - £24.00
40% Mourvèdre with 30% each of Cinsault and Carignan. Medium colour. Quite rounded on the nose but a bit stalky on the palate. A pity as it was the only wine I found in the tasting with Cinsault or Carignan in the blend.
2021 Unico Zelo True Blue Clare Valley, Grenache, Touriga Nacional, Nero d'avila, Syrah, Montepulciano - £20.00
I had to try this for the unusual blend of 36% Grenache, 24% Touriga, 19% Nero d’Avola, 12% Syrah and 9% Montepulciano. Quite a firm peppery nose and on the palate ripe fruit with spice and pepper. Very intriguing with lots of nuances.
2018 Mac Forbes Healesville Yarra Valley Syrah - £36.00
I had listened to Mac Forbes talking about the Yarra Valley and his wines on a webinar and was really pleased to have an opportunity to taste his range, including some elegant Chardonnay, slatey Riesling, honeyed Chenin Blanc, a selection of elegantly savoury Pinot Noirs, a refreshing Gamay, an original Nebbiolo – I would have been fascinated to compare it with something from Piedmont - and a couple of serious Bordeaux blends. This Syrah – and he does call it Syrah – was deep in colour with fresh peppery fruit on the nose and palate. I was particularly struck by the freshness in this wine, with a balance of acidity and tannin, and an elegant fresh finish. It was more northern Rhone than Languedoc.
I chatted to Michael Hill-Smith of Shaw + Smith, which entailed another pure Shiraz
2019 Shaw+ Smith Adelaide Hills Shiraz - £33.99
Medium colour. Fresh pepper on the nose. Medium weight palate. Rounded and peppery, with some e appealing freshness and an elegant 13.5°
2020 Thistledown Wines Vagabond Old Vine McLaren Vale Grenache - £24.99
Medium colour. Quite ripe spice on the nose and palate. Some tannin and a firm finish.
2021 Thistledown Wines ‘She’s Electric Old Vines Single Vineyards McLaren Vale Grenache
Medium colour. Good fruit, lovely ripe cherries with a streak of tannin.
Thistledown Wines This Charming Man Old Vine single vineyard McLaren Vale Clarendon Grenache - £44.99
I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the label. The charming man is Bernard |Smart, featured driving his tractor, in a vineyard that he had planted many years earlier, during the harvest at the ripe old age of 90. Quite a light colour. Very fragrant, elegant spicy fruit on nose and palate. Lovely fragrant with a balancing streak of tannin. Wild ferments, aged in old wood with 20% whole bunches. Delicious. One of my favourite wines of the whole tasting. And a great note on which to finish.
The Grenache Noir, particularly from the McLaren Vale were the undisputed stars of the tasting, and for me a real discovery.