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Using the spittons at Wine Australia
July 22, 2006

In this issue

Wine Australia, Alternative wines and food ideas, James Hallidays's Wine Companion 2007, James Hallidays's Wine Atlas of Australia, Australian Wine Club.

Wine daze: learning to spit at Wine Australia

Cellar doors and wine shows are usually accompanied by a discrete and sometimes decorative spittoon. I've often wondered why. After my visit to Wine Australia last weekend I think I now know why.

There were so many hundred wineries exhibiting; many of whom I had never been to or visited. I was set for a busy weekend. But there was a catch. I had agreed to give a panel presentation at each of three alternative varieties tastings, but alas, all were held late in the day. How could I manage to remain coherent at 7 pm on Saturday night after a hard day at the office?

Like most problems that we face in life someone had been there before, and worked a way around it. They must have seen me coming because as well as having nice little ice buckets on every exhibitors table (except the one giving previews of Halliday's New Wine Atlas of Australia)they also had GIGANTIC spittoons on every corner of the maze of streets making up the exhibition. Huge ones, in the form of big red wheelie bins - the 200 litre variety.

Sometimes I'm a bit slow on the uptake, but I managed to get the hint. Over three long days of talking I spat more than I swallowed.

The wines chosen were an interesting mix. All were good examples of what can be done with non-mainstream varieties in Australia.

For the record the wines were Pizzini Arneis, Tamar Ridge Gewurztraminer, Yarraburn Pinot Gris, Shelmerdine Viognier, Nepenthe Tempranillo, Coriole Sangiovese, Ferngrove King Malbec, Dal Zotto-King Valley Barbera.

None of these varieties are particularly obscure way out, and my guess is that they all have a future in Australia. The choice of the Malbec and the Gewurztraminer raised a few eyebrows. Malbec has been around for years, but was mainly used as a blender with Cabernet or Shiraz. It is now coming into its own as a straight varietal. The Ferngrove King Malbec is a fine example, but you will find plenty of others.

Gewurztraminer has also had a longish history in Australia. In warmer regions it was used to add flavour to bland warm climate Reislings in blends known as Traminer Reisling. But in cooler areas, especially Tasmaina as in this example, the variety shows its stuff as the archetypical aromatic varietal. Unfortunately most people don't get past the floral nose and expect a sweet wine. This one is dry. Try it, or any other cool climate Gewurztraminer with smelly cheese.

Some other highlights of the show.

  • Most of the mega producers were absent (Fosters etc). This left plenty of room for the smaller more interesting wineries
  • I caught up with Brian Freeman and tasted his Amarone style red wine made form the rare (in Australia) varieties Rondinella and Corvina.
  • Petit Verdot champion Robyn Branson from Mt Burrumboot was showing off her "Better than Shiraz" PV
  • Peos Estate had a Chameleon Carnelian rose. Like other WA wineries they acquired this variety by mistake having planted vines supplied as Sangiovese.
  • Speaking of Sangiovese, more people were asking winemakers "Can I try your Sangiovese?" than "What's Sangiovese?" - an indication of how things are changing.
  • Ian Hollick from the rather conservative Coonawarra region showed me his Wrattonbully Tempranillo and Sangio/shiraz.
  • John Pargeter of Zonte's Footsteps in Langhorne Creek gave me an impressive list of varieties that they are growing. Look out for an emerging region for alternative varieties here.
  • The venue was a huge shed and there were generic caterers providing extremely bland food (is this a lowlight?)

Want to share a recipe? I am intending to spruce up the Vinodiversity site with a few alternative wine - food matching suggestions. I would welcome any suggestions. Do you have a favourite dish to serve with Arneis or Zinfandel? You can just name a dish or send in the full recipe. Just reply to this newsletter or contact me via Vinodiversity. All contributions will be acknowledged on the Vinodiversity site... perhaps we can find a prize for the best contribution.

A couple of Beaut books, hot of the press

The release date for James Halliday's Australian Wine Companion 2007 is set for 26/07/06. A review will be put onto the Vinodiversity site in the next few days.

You can preorder your copy here Buying it online may be the best option. You get a discount off the Recommended Retail Price that pays for most of the postage charge. Second and subsequent books on the same order are post free for Australian delivery. There is an international delivery otion available at a very reasonable charge.

You can preorder your copy of James Halliday's Australian Wine Companion from our online bookshop

Also for imminent release is James Halliday's Wine Atlas of Australia. See my review of the Wine Atlas and link to get it at a discount to the asking price.

Some other reminders.

The Vinodiversity Wine Club is offering dozens of red, white or mixed alternative varietal wines from Aldinga Bay Winery. Prices are still set at promotional levels, so don't miss out.

My book Emerging Varietal Wines of Australia can be purchased from here.

I'd love your feedback! Just reply to this email with a recipe suggestion, any other suggestion or comment. You can forward this newsletter on to a friend, thus doing everyone a favour.

Keep up to date with the latest pages on the Vinodiversity site here. New and updated pages are being added constantly.

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