Last Friday witnessed the end of an Australian wine odyssey for the New Delhi wine trade. The end, that is, until at least September of October this year. Since September 2009, the Australian Trade Commission and the unofficial ambassador for Australian wine in India, sommelier Harshal Shah have presented a series of tastings for the trade, showcasing regional Australian wine.
This evening’s tasting largely focused on cool-climate wines from areas in Australia that are not truly represented in India, namely the Hilltops and Tumbarumba in New South Wales and Tasmania. This was the first time that many in the trade would have tried wines from these regions and the response was generally positive.
For many people, Australia is synonymous with warm to hot climate viticulture, leading to wines that are often ripe, full-bodied and unbalanced. However, according to Brain Croser – one of the leaders of the Australian wine industry and internationally renowned winemaker – of the 60 or so wine regions in Australia, 24 are actually ‘cool climate’ regions, being as cool or cooler than Bordeaux. They have the ability to produce genuinely fine, elegant and restrained wines. This was demonstrated rather well by the wine presented on the evening and has been shown through the previous tastings too.
In this series, wines from the regions of Margaret River, Pemberton and the Great Southern of Western Australia have been presented, as have wines from the Adelaide Hills, Eden Valley and Coonawarra from South Australia.
Two key producers – Eden Road from NSW, and Frogmore Creek from Tasmania – showed how Viognier, Pinot Noir and even Iced Riesling can be produced rather well in Australia. A sign of a cool climate wine is its refreshing acidity. The wines certainly demonstrated this quality while remaining true to their varietal characteristics.
The Meeting Place Viognier by Eden Road Wines was aromatic with notes of lychees, apricots and papaya yet was light to medium-bodied on the palate with typical Viognier texture. This slight ‘oily’ character was rather restrained and led to a fruity, floral finish that lingered on the palate for quite some time after the wine was gone. Likewise, the Pinot Noir had pleasant aromas of strawberries, and raspberries along with a slight forest-floor and barnyard character. The palate was light to medium-bodied with fine tannins, some spice and a long finish.
The Iced Riesling from Tasmania was something special: a sweet wine with 165g/litre of residual sugar, it was neither sticky nor cloying. The bright citrus acidity of the wine was a wonderful balance to the juicy mid-palate sweetness. The wine could have gone equally well with paté or spicy crab-cakes as it could with cheesecake or a citrus crème brulée. This wine was the winner of the evening!
The canapés and short eats from Manré restaurant that came around frequently did the wines proud with their quality and variety.
With quite a few influential hoteliers, wine importers and members of the trade present, the event was well attended and enjoyed by all, despite the pouring rain with which the evening ended.