WINE

ROB IN­GRAM LOOKS BELOW THE SUR­FACE TO FIND HID­DEN GEMS.

Country Style - - CONTENTS -

There’s much joy to be had when you try the wine of Aus­tralia’s lesser-known la­bels.

JONATHAN — THE ASTROLOGER at Syd­ney’s Daily Tele­graph news­pa­per — thinks that, con­sid­er­ing Mer­cury’s change of di­rec­tion, I should be­come a lit­tle more ad­ven­tur­ous. Just how, he didn’t say, but he’ll tell me if I call him and pay $1.32 per minute in­clud­ing GST. Nice try, Jonathan, but I think I’ll try to work it out for my­self. I have no wish to be­come more ad­ven­tur­ous in my sex­ual pref­er­ences or even my break­fast menu. And it’s too late to change my out­fit­ter from Blowes Menswear to who­ever Lady Gaga uses. But Jonathan may be on the money for those who share my star sign (it’s the one no-one owns up to) as far as wine se­lec­tion is con­cerned. It is an area in which we should all be­come a lit­tle more ad­ven­tur­ous. From time to time, the Aus­tralian wine industry lets slip chill­ing sta­tis­tics, such as that our top four wine com­pa­nies pro­duce 70 per cent of our to­tal out­put, or per­haps that the top 20 com­pa­nies pro­duce 80 per cent. That leaves just 20 per cent to be di­vided be­tween the 1400-odd other pro­duc­ers… and the arith­metic is not pretty. If any hu­man en­deav­our should ben­e­fit from a sense of ad­ven­ture, it’s wine en­joy­ment. I don’t thrill to news from some­one who has been drink­ing the same Pen­folds since 1992 that it is mo­ments from reach­ing its peak… but can’t be ob­tained any longer, but I do like to hear of an edgy caber­net franc made in metal milk churns in the By­long Val­ley. I find no ‘wow’ fac­tor that a lat­est re­lease from one of the big four dis­plays the same qual­ity that it has for a decade, but I take no­tice when some funky first ef­fort from a for­mer pig farmer takes out the tro­phy at a re­spected wine show. It is much more ex­cit­ing — and of­ten re­ward­ing — to check out the wines of smaller pro­duc­ers who may be fly­ing below the radar as far as mar­ket pro­file is con­cerned. Big com­pa­nies spend big money on pro­mo­tion and mar­ket­ing, but there are many pro­duc­ers out there who spend their en­tire bud­get on their prod­uct... and wait for the ad­ven­tur­ous con­sumer to dis­cover it. I’ve re­cently been seek­ing out lesser-known names — la­bels that might be new to you but which de­serve loads more at­ten­tion. In the in­ter­ests of com­par­i­son I chose chardon­nay, a va­ri­ety that presents well in most Aus­tralian wine re­gions. I was im­pressed by the fol­low­ing wines, but you’ll dis­cover your own favourites by be­ing a lit­tle more ad­ven­tur­ous in the bot­tle shop or on­line… whether Mer­cury is chang­ing di­rec­tion or not.

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