The Walkabout crew has had a relatively quiet October for once, largely due to the business of September and our extended walkabout through Tasmania. Here are a few of the discussion points the crew have mulled over during the last month as we prepare for a few more walkabouts throughout Victoria in the coming weeks:
1. Tasmania makes the best sparkling wine in Australia, and they know it. House of Arras, Jansz, Pipers Brook, Josef Chromy, the list is really extensive and a lover of sparkling wine really should take a drive around the East Tamar region (use Launceston as a base and then do day trips) to really experience just how much quality wine is available here. The only problem is the producers know they are onto a good thing and price their wines accordingly. There are some relative bargains to be found (and we use the term quite liberally) such as our favourite sparkling wine is only the second most expensive bottle made by House of Arras – $100 may seem excessive, but an equivalent quality wine from France would be around the $500 mark, so all things are relative, perhaps.
2. Chardonnay is worth another look. There was a time when Chardonnay was over-oaked by the majority of producers. Then the trend went almost the complete opposite and Unwooded Chardonnay was a bankable trademark. To really appreciate Chardonnay though is to know that, in many cases, it does require some time in oak, but not in a major way – the fruit flavours have a lot to contribute too. The really good producers of Chardonnay (and they are found worldwide, because Chardonnay is a really versatile grape) are making some really excellent wines and if you were once turned off the variety, now might be the time for another look.
3. The old favourites are still going strong, despite the new competition. Go to a boutique winery and you will often see a grape variety you have never heard of before, or have only seen on bottle labels – Siegerribe anyone? Gurwurtztraminer? Barbera? There is undoubtedly a constant search for the next big thing in wine, but that doesn’t mean you should abandon your old favourites. When we looked at our cellar recently, it was dominated by our favourites: Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon, Barossa Valley Shiraz, Yarra Valley Pinot Noir, the synergy is well known for a reason.
Our favourite wines this month: We have tasted and rated a lot of wine lately and for the first time we have rated a red wine and a sparkling over 97 points each for the first time ever in the one month (sorry, we don’t release our point scores – it takes the focus off the specific features of the wine).
Our red wine of the month is Tahbilk 1860 Vines Shiraz (pictured) and our sparkling wine of the month is House of Arras Vintage Blanc de Blancs.