Picture this: It’s Friday—the weekend has started. It was supposed to rain all afternoon, but the sky is clear and the sun is shining. It has turned out to be a beautiful spring day, and you are practically skipping as you leave work. The party is in a gorgeous backyard, where a cool breeze rustles through the foliage. A tent has been set up to protect the day’s wares, an unnecessary measure considering the afternoon’s change in meteorological course. Along the perimeter of the tent, tables have been set up, and the wines have been laid out for the enjoyment of the garden party’s guests. It is the first Canadian stop on the Savour Australia Roadshow, and you have been lucky enough to receive an invitation. And yes, while you are there, you forget to take a picture, so you have to use words to describe it. In this case, a picture is worth 148 words.
Without further ado, here are my top picks from the Savour Australia garden party!
I had a great chat with Kilikanoon owner Nathan Waks, who apart from owning a successful winery is also an accomplished cellist (he was formerly the Principal Cellist of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra). He told me he does dinners where he plays a cello piece to match each Kilikanoon wine, which reminded me a bit of that annual wine and music festival. As you know, I love pairing wine with music. The grapes from Mort’s Block riesling come from the Clare Valley, in South Australia. Riesling is one of the few white wines that can be aged, however this one is still young, showing citrus and stone fruit on the nose. On the palate, it is very refined and boasts lime and lots of minerally characteristics. This lovely, food-friendly wine is currently available in Vintages for $19.95.
Australia is most well known for its shiraz, and with good reason. There is something about the grape’s peppery, herbal and dark fruit characteristics that work so well with the Australian terroir. The Killerman’s Run from Kilikanoon is an excellent expression of Australian shiraz. Dark fruit, smoke, leather, all very well balanced with good tannin and acidity. There’s a reason why this wine is a Vintages Essential ($19.95).
- Barossa Valley Estate Shiraz 2014
The Barossa Valley, also located in South Australia, is one of the country’s oldest wine regions and is historically best known for its shiraz. This bottle is nice and spicy, with notes of black cherry, raspberry, blackberry, plum and black pepper. There is also a hint of vanilla after spending 12 months in French oak. Good acidity and medium-high tannins balance it all out. And good news! This bottle will be in the August 20 Vintages release (albeit in small quantities, so if you see it, grab it!). That said, you can get it regularly if you live in BC – it is available in BC Liquor Stores.
- Alpha Box & Dice Kit & Kaboodle Montepulciano Barbera Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Now this wine is not something you see every day coming out of Australia. Montepulciano is an Italian grape that is rarely grown outside of central Italy. In this wine, it is combined with Barbera (another Italian grape) and cabernet sauvignon, and smells like Black Cherry pop. On the palate, this round, medium-bodied red is all cherry and berry with a hint of spice. Perfect for simple foods like pizza or pasta, or for drinking on its own. Alpha Box and Dice is a unique small-batch winery in McLaren Vale that uses different styles and often experimental techniques of winemaking from all over the world. Look for it in Vintages this winter!
- McGuigan Personal Reserve Hunter Valley Shiraz 2005
This wine was the show-stopper of the afternoon. I drank it in the company of David Lunn, McGuigan’s Export Director. Our conversation began with David ensuring that I could properly pronounce the winery’s name, which is pretty simple if you imagine you’re Groundskeeper Willie. This wine comes from the Hunter Valley, just north of Sydney, in the New South Wales region. The first thing that was apparent about this wine was its age. After 11 years, the colour had turned from a ruby red to a nice garnet. The most obvious aroma, dried fruit, was again telling of its age. On the palate, the tannins had softened considerably to barely detectable levels, with flavours of dark berry, cassis, vanilla and leather.
Sorry folks, this wine is not available at the LCBO, and this vintage is probably next to impossible to find at this point. So basically I’m just bragging. Sorry (not sorry).
Thank you to the Australian High Commissioner to Canada for opening up his beautiful home to us and to Natalie MacLean for extending the invitation!