10 Most Drinkable Australian Wines

(Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Photo by Jill Weinlein)

After attending an Australian wine tasting seminar at The Church Key last week during Savour Australia Los Angeles, I learned about a variety of wonderful wines produced in Southern Australia. The focus was on the  fertile regions of Barossa, Hunter Valley, Margaret River, and McLaren Vale.

Australia began making wine over two centuries ago. Some of these old vines have been tended to by multiple generations. At the front of the tasting room were five Australian wine experts that included Wine Australia’s Global Education Director Mark Davidson, Allister Ashmead, Bruce Tyrrell, Chester Osborn and Charlie Seppelt. They offered witty facts about Australian wine with a bawdy sense of humor for two hours to an esteemed group of professional sommeliers, wine buyers and journalists.

(Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Photo by Jill Weinlein)

Here are 10 of my favorite Australian wines of the day. I tasted four white wines and 11 reds starting with Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon. Bruce Tyrrell started the seminar off with:IMG_7175

#1 Tahbilk ‘1927 Vines’ Marsanne 2007

Color: Light lemon yellow

Location: Nagambia Lakes – sandy and gravel

Aroma: “Smells like the back of a sheep,” said Tyrrell, yet this wine offers a lemony magic.

Notes of: Lemon curd and honeycomb. “It’s fresh as a daisy,” said Tyrrell.

(Photo by Jill Weinlein)

#2 Elderton ‘Ode To Lorraine’ Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz Merlot 2006

Color: Deep ruby-red

Location: Barossa Valley

Aroma: Exotic fig jam quality with bright berries

Established: 1884

Fun Fact: This wine was dedicated Lorraine Ashmead the Co-founder and Owner of Elderton by the Managing Director of Elderton, Allister Ashmead. As Allister shared the story of making the wine with his brother Cameron, the room had his full attention. When he told us that they wanted to name it after their mother, yet being a modest woman, she didn’t want them to make a fuss and told them to name it differently, they ignored her demand. They made the wine and arranged to have a bottle delivered to her table as she dined in one of the best restaurants in New York City, for her birthday.

(Allister Ashmead – Photo by Jill Weinlein)

#3 Tyrrell’s ‘Vat 47’ Chardonnay 2010

Color: Light Canary yellow

Location: Hunter Valley – Limestone and entirely hand-picked

Aroma: Silky bouquet of melon, stone fruit and creamy oak

Established: Since 1858 Edward Tyrrell and his family have produced wine made from old European vines. Now headed up by fourth generation family member Bruce Tyrrell, the wines have received over 5,000 trophies and medals. In 2010 Tyrrell was named “Winery of the Year” in James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion.

How it’s made: A great balance between fruit, acid and oak hints at the quality of the wine and the vintage. The wine is partially fermented is stainless steel seamless Vat 47 before being transferred into new, one and two-year old French oak prior to blending and bottling.

Fun Fact: In 1989, Bruce Tyrell provoked a family feud by holding back 1,000 cases of Vat 1 Semillon. Released seven years later, it went on to become one of Australia’s most celebrated white wines.

(Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Photo by Jill Weinlein)

#4 Leeuwin ‘Art Series’ Chardonnay 2012

Color: A white Burgundy

Location: Margaret River

Aroma: Tremendous intensity with layers of pear, lime, guava and floral flavors that linger on the creamy finish.

Established: In 1969 by Denis and Tricia Horgan. Robert Mondavi contacting the Horgans in 1973 to promote this wine region and to look for investment opportunities. They initial planted Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Pinot noir. Now they produces around 60,000 cases of wine each vintage and own 121 acres of vineyards.

Fun Fact: Since 2002, Leeuwin Estate has bottled all their wines under screw cap due to cork taint.

(Allister and Chester – Photo by Jill Weinlein)

#5 d’Arenberg ‘Derelict Vineyard’ Grenache 2012

Color: Ruby-red

Location: McLaren Vale

Aroma: Spicy and gritty tannins

Established: Established in 1912 by Joseph Osborn. Now Chester Osborn joined the business in 1984 as Chief Winemaker.

History: The Osborn’s acquired an old, derelict vineyard when grenache was disregarded as a stepchild in the wine industry. Now it is turning into a beauty.

Fun Facts: No tractors. In 2012 Chester and his father, d’Arry Osborn celebrated 100 years of family winemaking

#6 Torbreck ‘The Steading’ Grenache Shiraz Mataro 2008

Color: Red plum

Location: Barossa Valley

Aroma: Vibrant aromas of dark cherry, blackberry, and star anise with silky tannins.

Established: Founded by David Powell in 1994. He nurtured and brought back to life old, dry vines. They grow Grenache, Mataro and Shiraz. They make 15 Grenache wines.

(A Fun and Bawdy Bunch - Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(A Fun and Bawdy Bunch – Photo by Jill Weinlein)

#7 d’Arenberg ‘Ironstone Pressings’ Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2012

Color: a pretty red

Location: McLaren Vale

Aroma: lovely sweet and spicy wine. Grenache is the blood of the wine and Shiraz is the flesh of the wine. Fine fragrance.

Established: 1912

Fun Fact: A young cuddly wine. Grown in limestone.

(Australia Wine Region - Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Australia Wine Region – Photo by Jill Weinlein)

#8 Leeuwin ‘Art Series’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Color: Dark ruby-red with a black core.

Location: Margaret River

Aroma: Abundant blackcurrant, dark cherries and mulberry. Layers anise, cocoa, clove, black olive and earthy wild field mushroom. 2011 was a very challenging year in winemaking, yet the weather was perfect for grapes in the Margaret River region.

#9 Yalumba ‘The Menzies’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Color: Red crimson hue.

Location: Coonawarra – Same size as Manhattan, NY. Dusty and sandy red earth soil.

Aroma: Bright berry and plum fruits with a sea spray tang.
Established: 1849

Fun Fact: Five generations have made Yalumba Australia’s oldest family owned winery. This is a textbook Cabernet. Named after Robert Menzie, a wartime hero.

(Bruce Tyrell - Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Bruce Tyrell – Photo by Jill Weinlein)


#10 Vasse Felix ‘Heytesbury’ Chardonnay 2014

Color: Medium yellow color

Location: Margaret River – right on the coast – gravel soil “A bloody good area for Chardonnay,” Tyrrell.

Aroma: Bright nectarine and white peach fragrance captures the fruit character of this elegant wine with a delicate array of secondary notes encompassing lightly grilled citrus offering lemon notes, with a toasted hazelnut finish

Established: 1967

(Winemaker Andrew - Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Winemaker Andrew Quin- Photo by Jill Weinlein)

At the end of the day, we all met for dinner next door at the Country classic Eveleigh restaurant to meet Australian Winemaker Andrew Quin from Hentley Farm Wines. He poured the perfect wines to compliment chef Jared Levy’s farm-to-table fare. This exquisite Australian dinner was presented by the American Australian Association of California, Wine Australia and Table8.

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