Australia never stopped making great wine. Mistakes were made, scores were chased, and lessons were learned. Some wineries didn’t survive. The great ones did. Unfortunately, Australian wine is directly linked to Yellow Tail. That is a travesty. Due to the mass output and marketing efforts, that is equivalent to linking the entire US wine production to Barefoot.
Leading the world in technical development
For starting off as a British penal colony, Australia has since led the world in technical development for vineyard practices, such as mechanical harvesting, irrigation and blending. Australia is a very large and diverse country, with all of the wine production located on the coast. Home to the Great Barrier Reef in the northeast of the country, most of the wine production is in the south and east, where the climate is influenced by the Southern Ocean and Antarctica.
Cool climates, good wine
Margaret River, on the west coast, is known for cool climate Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Cabernet. Domaine Naturaliste’s wines are based on a significant understanding of the inherent strengths of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah fruit from the Margaret River Region.
Bruce Dukes, Winemaker/Director of Domaine Naturaliste, states fruit freshness, flavor and texture are the greatest qualities he pursues when crafting his wines. When asked if Domaine Naturaliste wines were natural, he replies “99% natural and 1% supernatural.” Pick them up at your favorite retailer between $25 for the Chardonnay to $35 for the Rebus Bordeaux blend.
Where shiraz is king
Moving back east to the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale, Shiraz is king. Most people are familiar with Mollydooker. These wines are purpose-built for the American palate. These wines are very fruit driven and high in alcohol. I call those style wines the perfect “first date wine” or “babymakers”, due to the high alcohol content. (Ask me at the club, and I can tell you a great story.)
A truer representation of the area’s style is better shown by Penfolds, Henschke and Clarendon Hills. Most of us can’t touch their top tier bottles, either due to price or availability. Kaesler Stonehorse Shiraz, from Barossa Valley, is more attainable. $25-30 on the retail shelf gets you a classic example of inky bright crimson, with a dark center and a youthful edge. Aromas of black cherries, dark fruits of the forest and hints of cassis & spice. A full-bodied wine with a supple mouth feel. Dark berry characters, spice box and liquor ice mingle on the palate. Pair this with anything off the grill on your tailgate!
Adam Arlen: “I am passionate about wine because it is history in a bottle.” He is the sommelier for The Peninsula Club in Cornelius, NC. Originally from Allentown, PA, he believes you should always branch out and find new things. His goal is to never stop learning and continuing to grow both personally and professionally. A fun fact about him: “I was a nuclear engineer on a submarine in a previous life.”