‘Tis the season for fresh, zesty whites, says Mike Bennie, but don’t be deterred from robust reds in warmer weather. Just chill.
SPRING IS THE MOST excellent time for fermented drinks. It’s when new-release wines hit the market, freshly minted and zinging in the bottle. Warmer weather is also when we first see aromatic whites such as riesling, sauvignon blanc and fresh white blends hit the shelves, and it brings a chance to ramp up the young, bright rosés.
For this time of year, fizzy wines are the go. Australian winemakers producing prosecco are having a field day, and even outgunning their Italian counterparts. Australian prosecco seems to have extra zip and a touch more complexity. The Italian variety can be very good to drink, but the travel from across the world can sometimes hamper freshness, so local versions should be on your agenda. The fact that most prosecco can be enhanced with fruit juice or nectar, or be blended into spritz cocktails, is also a benefit.
Pétillant naturel wines, or ‘pet nats’ as they are known, are an emerging sparkling wine. Naturally fermented in the bottle, they hold an exotic array of characters. They are interesting, refreshing, purefeeling bubbly wines that are increasingly gracing bistros, wine bars and great restaurants around the country.
Lean, crisp, dry white wines are also noteworthy during this period, perfect for alfresco drinking and paired with lighter, fresher meals. While riesling is typically imagined as a sweet wine, the bone-dry versions are the ones to go for – look for 2018 releases from Eden Valley, Tasmania, Great Southern in Western Australia, and the Canberra district. Get stuck into some with raw seafood to see how riesling soars!
It’s also time to drop the naysaying about chilling red wines. But remember: it’s the fresh, youthful expressions that work best with some fridge time. Ten minutes for pinot noir, gamay and an array of light- to medium-bodied red blends is ideal. And don’t be afraid to drink straight from the fridge – it helps tighten reds and give them extra pep and vigour.