Monday, July 14, 2008

Wines from Down Under

I take a look at the list of wines put in front of me. Wines from Australia, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, The U,S of A. What a variety. And what do I order? I look at the first country heading the list. Australia…one can visualize a cool coastal climate, vast stretches on beaches, bronze beauties and maybe a few kangaroos and koala bears thrown in for good measure…but wines? But yet this continent produces an award winning range of wines…especially from the Mclaren vale region and the Barossa’s vineyards.

Entering into enormous wine cave in one of the posh 5 star hotels, I was asked to take my pick, to complement my meal. I was determined to try an Australian wine…I heard that the wines were good, but what do I choose from the five wines placed before me from the House of Tapestry, RolfBinder and Fox Gordon. I was determined to do a study of the different wines of specific regions before making my choice. I look at the friendly barman…would he be able to help? He did.

In the heart of Australia’s premiere wine region of MalarenVale are made the Tapestry wines. The rich iron stone soil and the cool costal climate produce wines that truly express their regional characteristics. Two of the most famous red wines with a firm dry finish are the Tapestry, Shiraz, MclarenVale 2004, and the Tapestry Cabernet Sauvignon, MacLarenVale 2004.

The tapestry Shiraz has an earthy intense aroma of sweet berries and spicy liquorices. Take a sip and it leaves a warm and juicy texture in the mouth, and then a firm dry finish. Yes, this red wine, unlike popular myth is dry, not sweet. So what food would it complement.

‘Elementary, my dear Watson,’ not Sherlock Holmes, but that was what I was thinking, after hearing the encyclopedia. the barman in action. ‘Grilled meats…your steaks and grilled chicken. Whenever one orders continental grilled food this wine is a winner.’

I nod sagely, as though that very thought was passing through my mind. One cannot show one’s ineptitude in situations like this. Especially today when wines are the ‘in thing’ and are flooding the market.

By now my mentor was in full steam. ‘The Tapestry Cabernet Sauvignon,’ he continues, ‘however, although dry, has a highly aromatic flavor of sweet plum jam, mint and coffee when you nose the wine.’ Nose the wine? Yes folk, before tasting gently swirl the glass near your nostrils to take in the rich aromatic flavor. ‘The wine has a rich mouth filling concentrated berry taste, structured from fruit and oak. Excellent combination with charcoal grilled meats like our kebabs.’ He gives a satisfied smile, I hope it was not at my open mouthed expression. Two red wines from the same region…different flavors…complementing different food.

‘Now look at this brand,’ he urges, ‘he takes a bottle which had the name RolfBinder. ‘Now this gentleman started making wines as early as 1955.’ I am impressed. Nothing like a good introduction to whet ones appetite. ‘He uses shaven oak to harmoinise the ripe flavour of the grape.’ I am given to understand that these wines are made in limted quality and are among the best in Australia.

‘The RolfBinder, Heinrich, Shiraz-Grenache-Matoro, 2005…from the Barossa valley,’ I am impressed. ‘Its all given on the label,’ he smiles at my look of awe, ‘anyway, this wine is a brilliant crimson colour..the aroma floral. It builds in your mouth, leaving behind a flavor of fruit and fine tannins. An excellent wine to complement our Indian gravies.’

He takes out another bottle, the RolfBinder, Halliwell, Shiraz-Grenache, 2004. ‘This red wine has a refreshing balance of cherry, rhubarb and blackberry, and just a hint of pepper. Complements the continental food preparations to the core.’

‘And while we are still on the subject of Australia…here is a wine which has got 91 points from the Wine Spectator in 2004. One of the wines which is drinking beautifully now but will continue to develop in the bottle for the next 6 years.’

This wine apparently from the Barossa’s vineyards, is the Fox Gordon single variety reds. Fox Gordon was started by a renowned winemaker Natsaha Mooney and her two friends Jane Gordon and Rachael Atkins nee Fox. Mooney selected grapes from some of the oldest vines in the world, their philosophy of low input yeileds to give maximum flavours and preserve the quality of the fruit.

‘This wine is a deep color, very fruity elegant wine. Aroma of cherry, strawberry, blackberry and spicy cashew…maybe some elements of cashew feni,’ he jokes.

Whatever the flavor, the finish or the mouth filling intensity; these winemakers of Australia have focused on innovation and passion to bring to our dining tables a wine that will complement every cuisine served in our restaurants.

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