Wine of the Week – New Australian Reds
In Australia the wine industry has been experimenting with different grape varieties quite a bit recently. The traditional Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are still very much in the majority, however there are many wineries using many different European varieties to offer the consumer a change from the heavy flavors of the traditional fair. This is one of the most interesting changes in the wine industry for some time. One of the stand-out “new” grapes is Tempranillo.
Tempranillo is well suited to Australian conditions. It is thought it was brought to Australia with a mixture of initial cuttings as far back as the early 1830’s. These cutting were not widely planted and didn’t survive the great depression 100 years later.
In the modern era – for Australia anyway – the grape was only re-introduced into main-stream production in the 1980’s under its Portuguese name Tinta Roriz. It was mainly used in the product of fortified wines in the Rutherglen region in northern Victoria. More recently it was planted further south in Victoria where they decided to produce a single grape wine. Since then Tempranillo has become a staple for many wineries in central Victoria.
This week’s Wine of the Week is the Pondalowie 2008 MT Tempranillo. The MT comes from the owners and wine makers, Dominic and Krystina, association with vintages in Portugal. “Minha Terra” was used often by the workers at the Quinta do Crasto winery when describing they home. Dominic still is the main winemaker at Quinta do Crasto, so divides his time between the Douro and their own vineyard in Bridgewater, near the town of Bendigo.
The wine has fruity and rich aromas of cherry, raspberry, but with the some added earthy and mineral accents which is typical of red wines from this region. This provides a pleasant difference from the more famous Rioja version of the wine. Tasting the wine provides the same berry flavors and the rich earthiness and a medium body which is a pleasant change from the rich or heavily oaked wines traditionally made in Australia. It is unwooded and can be served slightly chilled on a warm day, which is perfect for the Australian climate. Now I am back in the northern hemisphere I think I will keep it out of the fridge.
It is perfectly suited to tapas and is great with this type of starter before getting stuck in to a heavier food (and wine) now that the festive season is almost upon us. If you can find it, it is great value, the 2006 version is available on their web site for AUS $24.