(Australian Associated Press)
What wines do you serve when world-leading experts are dropping by to find out the best bottles Australia has to offer?
Here’s a hint: not Grange.
Forty-three Masters of Wine – some of the most qualified wine buffs on the planet – made a quiet visit to Sydney on the long weekend for a tasting of the best wines in Australia right now.
What was served up was an insider’s list of 18 wines most punters haven’t heard of but, happily, can have without taking out a second mortgage.
From Tasmanian sparklings that rival the finest French champagnes to aromatic white wine from Canberra, the wine list offered by Wine Australia to showcase the best new Australian styles is full of surprises.
Wine critic and writer Mike Bennie was one of the curators of the wine list for an exclusive tasting session held by Wine Australia and Tourism Australia for the visiting experts at Bennelong restaurant in the Sydney Opera House on Sunday.
“It’s a distillation of two things,” Mr Bennie said of the final selection.
“The zeitgeist of Australian wine: right now there are some producers who are really showing a more contemporary face of Australian wine.
“It’s also a selection of some of Australia’s finest wines that don’t leave our shores, or if they do it’s in such small numbers they don’t get much of a profile overseas.”
So Grange is left off the list because the visitors – from the UK, US, Europe, Asia and New Zealand – have tried it plenty of times but other drops like a House of Arras EJ Carr Late Disgorged Sparkling are on it because the experts are unlikely to encounter the top Tasmanian bubbles at home.
“In many respects Tasmania would rightfully challenge (France’s Champagne region) for premium sparkling,” Mr Bennie said.
The list was divided into premium sparklings, definitive “pioneers” and “distinctively Australian fine wine today”.
It’s an attempt to change dominant overseas perceptions of Australian wines as cheap “sunshine in a bottle” styles or big blockbusters and draw attention to some of the premium cool-climate wines now being produced.
Mr Bennie says Australian drinkers could also benefit from expanding their tastes.
“We are one of the most dedicated wine-drinking populations in the world,” he said.
“We are very broad-minded and quite well-versed but there’s much more to explore in terms of Australia.”
WHAT WAS ON THE LIST
– Dal Zotto L’Immigrante Prosecco 2014 (King Valley)
– Luke Lambert Sparkling Chardonnay 2012 (Yarra Valley)
– Courabyra 503 Sparkling 2002 (Tumbarumba)
– House of Arras EJ Carr Late Disgorged Sparkling 2002 (Tasmania)
– Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2012 (Margaret River)
– Bannockburn Serre Pinot Noir 2012 (Geelong)
– Best’s Thomson Family Great Western Shiraz 2010 (Great Western)
– Brothers in Arms Metala Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (Langhorne Creek)
– Parker Coonawarra Estate First Growth 2010 (Coonawarra)
– Wendouree Shiraz Mataro 2002 (Clare Valley)
– Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2009 (Canberra District)
DISTINCTIVELY AUSTRALIAN FINE WINE TODAY
– Crawford River Reserve Riesling 2004 (Henty)
– Lark Hill Gruner Veltliner 2015 (Canberra District)
– Andevine Wines Reserve Semillon 2014 (Hunter Valley)
– Mayer Dr Mayer Pinot Noir 2014 (Yarra Valley)
– Castagna Genesis Syrah 2012 (Beechworth)
– Woodlands Alex Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Margaret River)
– Ruggabellus ARCHAEUS 2014 (Barossa Valley)