Summarising the Australian Summer… of wine

As the Summer down under winds to an inevitable end and the Walkabout crew ready their corkscrews to open some big reds and double check the supply of fortified wines for the cold months ahead, it is time to reflect on what was a really bizarre few months here in Oz and what that means for wine and our upcoming walkabouts.

1. The bushfires were a big deal. In our opinion, the Hunter Valley region in New South Wales will be hit the hardest for a number of reasons. Our solution is to buy up a bit more aged Semillon from the region. We went on as many walkabout trips as we could (including to Tahbilk to see the 1860 vines shiraz grapes coming along nicely – picture above) to inject our tourist dollars, small as they are in the grand scheme, but it all helps.

2. Bubbles are beautiful this year. A number of wineries (including Phaedrus Estate on the Mornington Peninsula) are making sparkling wine for the first time this vintage and there are some really surprisingly good results to be seen already. Bigger wineries such as Chandon in the Yarra Valley are buying more grapes from growers who don’t have their own wine-making facilities and are making single-vineyard wines rather than the big blend that has been common. The results in many cases are quite amazing. Australian sparkling wine is giving the Old World producers some competition… just don’t mention Prosecco (we’re fine with the name, but some Italian growers are trying to claim rights similar to Champagne – except Prosecco is the name of the grape, and the region, so it is a bit complicated…)

3. Cancelled export orders means bargains can be found, but move quickly. With a number of recent issues, there have been a few instances of wineries having export orders cancelled. If you act quickly, this can mean bargain prices as wineries need to clear stock to make room for the next vintage to be bottled. A word of caution though, for some markets, the wines will be cork-sealed whereas the same wine for the domestic market is under screw-cap. If you know how to use a corkscrew though, you will be fine. Online auction houses have already started selling bulk lots at very good prices and we are sure there will be more to come as bottling season for red wines gets underway soon.

Our bargains of the summer… Tahbilk released a new Marsanne this summer, made from their 1927 vines stock. Wine from these grapes has a RRP of around $45 per bottle, but if you are quick, the “Winemakers Selection” Marsanne is $30 per bottle if you buy cases of 12 (stock is very limited and so you may need to buy online directly from Tahbilk). Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon continues to find its way to the eastern states of Australia and we found some Wills Domain Cabernet Sauvignon to be a particularly big-hitter for the price. Widely available, check the bigger retail stores for stock.

That’s all from us for now… Cheers!

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