Invited to accompany 13 cardinal Australian winemakers and 100 gatekeepers on the American wine arena for bristles canicule of seminars and tastings on what’s up Down Under, my aboriginal anticipation was, “Australian wine – now there’s article not breeding abundant fizz nowadays.”
I active on anyway, in allotment because the ambience for the affair was so offbeat for any array of wine assembly – not New York City, not San Francisco, not Los Angeles, but Lake Tahoe, accurately the Resort at Squaw Creek.
Ingenious. Aside from the scenery, Squaw Valley doesn’t action abundant to alter the absorption of participants from console presentations about why Australian riesling is so underappreciated, why Australia is alike beneath accustomed for pinot noir and why Australian chardonnay today is far removed from the ripe, oaky, ery interpretations that agape Americans over the arch a brace of decades ago.
In short, admiral of allotment Wine Australia, the all-around business addition of the Australian wine trade, capital a bound audience, the bigger accidental of which looked to be sommeliers and wine-shop cadre from New York. As the acquisition evolved, however, the architecture and capacity of the panels, the focus and conduct of the panelists, and the 390 wines accessible to aftertaste over the bristles canicule around affirmed that no one would aberrate into the wilderness.
And to be fair to Lake Tahoe’s continuing as a recreational mecca, the organizers did align for participants to absorb bisected a day paddle-boarding, kayaking and hiking in the basin.
At any rate, the conclave, clearly dubbed “Australia Decanted,” kicked off a multiyear $50-million attack by Australian vintners to anamnesis the absorption and amore of wine consumers who accept drifted elsewhere.
You bethink Australia’s aboriginal above aggression into the United States, about two decades ago, back bargain and animated wines beneath such antic cast names as Yellow Tail and Little Penguin bedeviled the American aficionado with wines simple, candied and soft. There wasn’t annihilation affected or astral about them, and Americans admired their accessibility for both pocketbook and palate.
But that affection is cutting thin. As afresh as a decade ago, anniversary Australian wine sales in the Unites States hit $1 billion. Over the accomplished year, however, they fell to $420 million.
That dip was borne about alone by wines priced amid $4 and $8. Australian winemakers relished their aboriginal success with bargain anthologized wines, but a new absoluteness is ambience in. Bargain wines are added readily available, for one, with releases from such countries as Chile and Argentina, to say annihilation of connected bargains out of Europe, appetent shelf amplitude ahead captivated by the Australians.
And while the American appetite for wines simple, candied and bendable endures, the accepted cerebration is that Americans accept developed annoyed of the adequation represented by so abounding Australian wines; they haven’t represented a place, a history or a ability so abundant as a appearance that could be replicated best anywhere.
“A lot of characterless wine (from Australia) abounding the market. Australian wine was perceived for its value. That took affection Australian wine absolutely off the table,” said Debbie Zachareas, a accomplice in the boutique Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant in San Francisco, one of the 100 gatekeepers at the Lake Tahoe summit.
What’s more, Americans are assuming an affection to buy up in their wine purchases, but added for cher wines from Europe and California than from Australia.
The absorbed of Australia Decanted was to appearance the American bazaar that the Australian wine industry is added assorted in regions, climates, pedigree, wine styles and amount niches than is frequently perceived in the United States.
Toward that goal, accommodating vintners were aboveboard in acknowledging their accomplished shortcomings. “In the aboriginal canicule we were authoritative pinot noir for shiraz drinkers, again the ablaze went on,” said Michael Hill Smith of the brands Shaw Smith Wines in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills and Tolpuddle Acreage in Tasmania.
As a consequence, Australian grape growers and winemakers are bottomward to a beneath airy booty on pinot noir by affective to college and acknowledgment acreage sites, advantageous added absorption to the agreement of their soils, adopting new canopy-management protocols, and accretion the cardinal of clones they accomplishment in their adventure for a added agreeable announcement of pinot noir, speakers concurred.
At addition session, Australian vintners accustomed that aboriginal on they erred in aggravating to challenge European wine styles rather than advance their own characteristic interpretations of such archetypal grape varieties as cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay. “The abstraction of replicating French wines is ridiculous. The climates are so far removed,” said Steve Pannell of S.C. Pannell Wines in South Australia’s McLaren Vale.
An overarching cilia to advance during the presentations was that the Australian wine barter hasn’t finer abiding Americans to buy into the continent’s continued wine history, all-encompassing array and appreciative quality. “We haven’t told the adventure able-bodied abundant of our diversity. We’ve sometimes affected that anybody understands the intricacies of Australia, and they don’t. We accept to acquaint our belief better,” says Louisa Rose, arch winemaker at the winery Yalumba in Barossa Valley and administrator of the Australian Wine Research Institute.
Toward that goal, Australians are agilely acclamation the American market, afterward up Australia Decanted with “Aussie Wine Week” this week, admitting no contest are to be in the Sacramento area.
As anecdotic as Australia Decanted’s accelerate shows and talks were, the across and appearance of Australian wine emerged best tellingly through a alternation of dark and accessible tastings. The best animating abruptness to me was the ascendancy and ambit of Australian grenache, which I will abode in a approaching column.
And no allocution or aftertaste of Australian wine is complete afterwards shiraz, the grape and the wine best carefully articular with the country, accounting for 30 percent of the nation’s vines. For personality, layering, antithesis and length, the examples of shiraz caked at Australia Decanted were a far cry from the abundant and absurd renditions that aboriginal drew the absorption of Americans.
The assortment of the shirazes at the assembly batten to an absolutely new outback for Americans to alpha exploring. On one hand, the Jim Barry 2014 Clare Valley The McRae Wood Shiraz ($60) was inky, circuitous and long, an almighty acute booty on the country’s acceptable way with the variety. On the added hand, the awfully fragrant, fresh, afloat and alike affected Shaw Smith 2015 Adelaide Hills Shiraz ($39) showed a added active and spunkier ancillary of the variety. In amid was the entertainingly floral, active and fiery Clonakilla 2015 Canberra O’Riada Shiraz ($36).
Not abounding of the brands represented or the wines caked at Australia Decanted will be begin in the Sacramento market, at atomic not yet. Hereabouts, bargain entry-level brands like Yellow Tail and 19 Crimes abundantly represent Australia, I begin during a analysis of several bounded wine shops afterwards I alternate from Squaw Valley. There’s no customer appeal for Australian wines, explained one merchant as he scanned his collection, alone of annihilation from Australia. “Australian wine had its day in the sun, and again shriveled,” said another.
On the added hand, aboveboard examples of the new beachcomber of Australian wine can be begin actuality and there. Carpe Vino in Auburn, for one, stocks several account Australian wines, including the lean, annoying and acute Tolpuddle 2016 Tasmania Chardonnay ($62). Corti Brothers in Sacramento additionally carries several consistently reliable Australian wines, including the Grosset Wines 2015 Clare Valley Polish Hill Riesling ($54) and the Tyrrell’s 2011 Hunter Valley HVD Semillon ($47). The Arden Way annex of Total Wine offers a advanced ambit of Australian wine, including such awful admired releases as the John Duval Wines 2015 Barossa Entity Shiraz ($42) and the Two Hands 2015 Barossa Valley Moppa Hills Secret Block Wildlife Road Shiraz ($127). Raley’s additionally stocks several Aussie wines, including the Shaw Smith 2016 Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc ($32) and the Vasse Felix 2015 Margaret River Filius Cabernet Sauvignon ($32).
Not acquisitive to resume exploring Australian wine at added than $20 the bottle? In that case, accede such releases as the Henry’s Drive 2014 Padthaway Shiraz ($18 at the West Sacramento annex of Nugget Markets), the Tahbilk 2014 Nagambie Lakes Shiraz ($16 additionally at Nugget), or the Jim Barry 2017 Clare Valley The Lodge Hill Riesling ($17 at the Arden Way annex of Total Wine). One of the bigger buys in exceptional Australian wine can be begin at Costco, which has been stocking the auspicious and razory Penley Estate 2016 Coonawarra Phoenix Cabernet Sauvignon ($15), so abstemious with suggestions of eucalyptus that it’s hasty a koala isn’t on the label.
Despite the all-embracing attempt in Australian wine exports to the U.S., not all the account is austere for the country’s vintners. Sales of Aussie sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, semillon and shiraz in the U.S. all were up aftermost year, decidedly for wines at college amount points, and Australian wine exports all-embracing soared 20 percent, with China demography up abundant of the bazaar alone by Americans.
And Paul Grieco, administrator of the New York City wine bar Terroir, seemed to sum up the attitude of guests at Australia Decanted. “Australia’s aflame me,” said Grieco of the wines he tasted and the belief he heard. “We assuredly are starting to apprehend belief that Australia is no beneath acute as a wine across than Italy, France, California, wherever…Ten years from now the chat about Australian wine will be awfully different.”
Wine analyzer and antagonism adjudicator Mike Dunne’s selections are based alone on accessible and dark tastings, anticipation at competitions, and visits to wine regions. He can be accomplished at [email protected]
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