Landmark Australia Tutorials - Regional Classics Presentation. For more see http://www.landmark-wineaustralia.com/
- 1. AUSTRALIAS REGIONAL CLASSICS Michael Hill Smith AM MW 1 June
2. Australia makes some wonderful Regional Classics wines where
region and grape combine to produce a wine style that has regional
uniquenessand international relevance.Some of these are traditional
classics, others modern classics, but classic nonetheless.This
tasting is not intended to becomprehensive but rather to give you a
sense of some of these regional classics.REGIONAL CLASSICS 3. 4.
EDEN VALLEY & CLARE WATERVALE RIESLING
- Riesling is one of the great Aussie styles. Wonderful fresh
lively when young and toasty honeyed and complex with age.
- Many regions make good Riesling but Clare-Watervale and Eden
Valley are the undisputed regional classics.
- Riesling needs to struggle so it is not surprising that the
best sites in both regions are stony, hard rock with low
- Eden Valley is slightly cooler than Clare, acids can be higher,
has great fruit vibrancy but not full in the mid-palate.
- Clare-Watervale has more lime, citrus tones , Eden Valley more
- The history of Riesling in South Australia is really the
history of winemakers learning how to make fresh, delicate whites
in a warmer often challengingclimate.
- As early as the mid- 1930s Yalumba winemakerRudi Kronberger
introduced Geisenheim cultivars, cultured yeast, and early
- In 1952 Gunter Prass and Colin Gramp Orlando ordered the first
pressure tanks from Germany which allowed for slower more
controlled fermentation resulting in the totally new Orlando 1953
- Riesling was further refined by John Vickery atLeo Buring,
Peter Lehmann and Peter Wall at Yalumba through the 1970s.
- Today Jeffrey Grosset, Louisa Rose, Kerri Thompson, Andrew
Wigan and others continue the tradition of dry, fine Riesling.
- These wines are drier than most German wines, Aussie Riesling
has very low phenol levels and are not nearly as chunky or as four
square as many Austrian and Alsatian styles.
- Consumers may not have embraced dry Riesling but sommeliers,
wine writers, winemakers and lovers ofRiesling seem eternally
optimistic that quality will triumph over fashion.
5. HUNTER VALLEY SEMILLON
- Semillon is a most useful grape. It plays an important role in
the Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blends of Margaret River and makes a
creditable and often impressive oaked whites in Barossa and
- But in the Hunter Valley it makes Australias most
idiosyncratic, individual, long-living and remarkable white
- My first exposure to aged Lindemans Semillon was an epiphany
toasty, complex and wonderfully individual. Confusing however as in
the those days their 1970 Chablis, 1964 Riesling and 1968 White
Burgundy were all made from the same grape variety.
- Aged Hunter Semillon requires considerable understanding: young
wines are often acid and neutral but evolve with bottle age into
marvellous complex wines with honeyed toasty characters. The best
take at least 10 years to evolve and can stay fresh for 15-20
years. They are all about developed tertiary characters. James
Halliday refers to them as undervalued treasures.
- They have been termed schizophrenic as the honeyed toasty
bouquet promises a full bodied wine yet the palate is lean and
- Low alcohol, high acid, no oak and last for decades. 10-11%
alcohol, pH 3, bone dry with acid levels of 7gm and above.
- Maurice OShea made some great Semillons in the 1940s, Karl
Stockhausen thewonderful classicsat Lindemans in the 1960s, and
today Tyrrell, Brokenwood and McWilliams keep the flame alive.
6. MARGARET RIVER CHARDONNAY
- As you well know the first commercial Chardonnay was Murray
Tyrrells Hunter Valley 1971 Vat 47.
- Chardonnay planted in Margaret River by Cullen in 1976 and
Leeuwin in 1978 - predominately the Gin Gin or Mendoza clone.
Traditionally Margaret River has had a pronounced green pineapple
character. Various winemakers report dried pear characters to the
south and more citrus and limesto the north.
- Margaret River is not a cool area but has a Mediterranean
maritime climate. The role of the sea is very important in
tempering the seasonal range and diurnal range.
- Chardonnay is a very important wine style in the region in part
due to the reputation of Leeuwin Estate but also the overall
quality of the best producers.
7. ADELAIDE HILLS CHARDONNAY
- Chardonnay was planted in the Adelaide Hills by Brian Croser at
Piccadilly in 1980 using OF clone. I10V1 clone is widely planted
but Bernard Dijon Clones 95,96 and 76 are now favoured.
- The area is cool particularly around Piccadilly area. This is
due to altitude and the affects of the Mt LoftyRanges. Site
selection within the Hills is important.
- It can get warm during the days with cool nights and a high
- Produces tighter leaner Chardonnay with good natural acidity
and texture not hard edged.
- Pronouncedstone fruit particularly nectarine in the cooler
sites -more peachy in the warmer areas.
- Has an excellent reputation for Chardonnay from producers such
as Petaluma, Shaw + Smith, Weaver but also from the bigger
companies who use Adelaide Hills fruit in many of their super
There has been significant movement away from stereotypical
heavy Aussie Chardonnay and this is particularly true of the
Chardonnay from both the Adelaide Hills and Margaret River.
Burgundian process of hand harvesting, whole bunch pressing, use of
wild yeasts, barrel fermentation, partial malolactic fermentation
and battonage in barrel are widely practiced. 8. GEELONG PINOT
- The emergence of quality Pinot Noir outside of Burgundy is one
of the most exhilarating developments in the world of wine. Not
Burgundy outside of Burgundy but Pinot Noir outside of
- The Pinot evolution has been driven and fuelled by a small
number of fanatics or true believers.
- None more than Gary Farr who began with Pinot in Geelong at
Bannockburn in 1984. Gary Farr isthe John the Baptist of Aussie
Pinot a voice in a vinous wilderness dominated by Shiraz. In the
early days Gary couldnt even get people to taste Pinot Noir let
alone buy it.In the 1980s Pinot was for wimps!
- These Pinot true believers had a deep andprofound love of
Burgundy. They bought it and worked it. Gary did virtually every
vintage with Jacques Seysses at Domaine Dujac from 1983-2002.Not
surprising his wines were much more Burgundian than many of his
- Key to quality Pinot seems to be:
- Cooler regions or sites debatably with a narrow diurnal
- An understanding of the Pinot Noir winemaking. Pre-fermentation
maceration, % of whole berries and or stems, subtle use of oak, and
above all access to the new Pinot Noir clones.
- The limiting factor has been access to the best clonal
material. MV6 has been the workhorse of many of the best Pinots but
is increasingly being replaced by Dijon clones 112, 113,114 and 115
and the intensely fruity 777.
- Today Pinot is so fashionable that wine enthusiasts site clonal
- In the beginning we simply looked for wines that were correct
with Pinot aromas and flavours.Now intensity, complexity, length
and structure are increasingly important.
- Ideally these wines have new world fruit purity coupled with
the complexity and structure of good Burgundy.
- Alcohol levels are around 13-13.5 % and are never as high as
those found commonly in California - nor arethey as intensely
fruity as Central Ottago.
9. COONAWARRA & MARGARET RIVERCABERNET SAUVIGNON/ MERLOT
- Cabernet like Shiraz is widely planted throughout
- Style varies greatly from the rich wines of warmer regions
through to the leaner wines from more marginal sites.
- Merlot is planted widely and has proved successful blended with
Cabernet. Far less convincing as a straight varietal.
- Due to the international demand and focus on Aussie Shiraz ,
Cabernet has become the poor relation.
- Shiraz has tended to overshadow the real quality of the best
- The two most famous regions are Coonawarra in South Australia
and Margaret River in Western Australia. There is intense rivalry
between the two which has resulted in better wines in both
- Margaret River has a strong maritime influence and has red
- Coonawarra is less maritime, has their famous terra rosa soils
- red brown earth over limestone.
- Simply put Coonawarra has very pure fruit expression of
Cabernet whilst Margaret River has greater earthiness and
- Both regions have small producers but Coonawarra is more
dominated by the larger companies. In the 80s and early 90s
Coonawarra somewhat lost its way. The large vineyards became highly
mechanised, in particular the use of mechanical pruning.
- Moreover many of the wines were big and powerful concentrated
by saignee and heavy oak ageing. Process overshadowed variety today
there is a welcomed return to purer, finer and better balanced
10. Indisputably Shiraz has driven Australias international
success.It is grown wildly and styles vary greatly depending upon
region and winemaking philosophy. SHIRAZ 11. HUNTER VALLEY
- One of our most idiosyncratic styles almost always medium
bodied and often with a distinctive savoury earthiness, almost
- Somewhat of an acquired taste but one of Australias most unique
- Rarely, if ever shows the chocolately characters of Barossa or
- Climate is warm and humid with a short growing season resulting
in low alcohol, anthocyannins and resultant colour.
12. GRAMPIANS SHIRAZ
- Provescool climate Shiraz is far from a recent phenomena.
- The Grampians especially around the Great Western has been
making wine since the 1860s.
- The area is cool producing wines with great pepper spice purity
but avoiding the lean and skinny palates of some very cool
13. EDEN VALLEY SHIRAZ
- Eden Valley abuts the Barossa but the wines are very
- As part of the Mt Lofty Ranges Eden Valley is much cooler than
the Barossa floor. There is much greater diurnal range and whilst
the days can be hot the nights are cool.
- The wines are more elegant and restrained, the acidity is
higher and the fruit quite pure in the plum, spice and blackberry
14. BAROSSA VALLEY SHIRAZ
- Barossa Shiraz can be divided into two very different schools
of winemaking:those making ultra- ripe, high alcohol and often
heavily oaked and aimed to win favour from RobertParker, and those
making wines at 14.5% alcohol or less.
- The lower alcohol wines are still rich and powerful but have
better balance and avoid excessive raisining.
- Barossa Shiraz has dark chocolate, prune overtones which often
morphs into mocha with bottle age.
- The wines are full bodied but have a soft finish with ripe
tannins. Increasingly there is a move away from American Oak to
French or a mixture of the two.
- Sub-regions such as Marinanga, Stonewell and Kalimna are highly
sought after as is Lyndoch in warmer years.
- Whilst Penfolds Grange is a regional blend it is rarely, if
ever, over 14.5% alcohol so these elevated alcohol wines are a new
aberration or direction depending upon your point of view.
15. BAROSSA VALLEY SHIRAZ - CABERNET
- Cabernet-Shiraz or Shiraz-Cabernet is the quintessential
Australian Blend more often or not with a hefty dose of American
- Born of scarcity when Cabernet was in much shorter supply than
Shiraz. In the 1980s Cabernet commanded a 20-30% premium over
Shiraz in both grape and bottle prices.
- Len Evans joked that the percentage of Cabernet on the label
was determined by how fast the truck of Cabernet grapes drove past
the Shiraz vineyard pre- label Integrity Scheme of course!!
- Some of Australias greatest wines have been Cab-Shiraz
- Cabernet can have a dip in the mid-palate which is filled by
Merlot in Bordeaux and Shiraz in Australia.
- Believed to be uniquely Australian, this blend has a bizarre
precedent in France where pre-Appellation Bordeaux was occasionally
hermitaged with Syrah from the Rhone.
- Cab-Shiraz is less fashionable than the racier Cab-Merlot which
is a perplexing given the quality and uniqueness of this
16. RIVERINA BOTRYTIS SEMILLON
- In 1982 Darren De Bortoli returned home to his family winery in
the Riverland and made his first Noble One.
- He was inspired by the 1975 Ch teau Coutet he had tasted at
Roseworthy and was keen to try making a botrytis affected wine from
- In the early years he sought to make the most concentrated wine
possible but more recently they pick at lower sugar levels and the
wine is now more refined refined but still powerful!
- Noble Ones international success had given rise to other
botrytised wines from the Riverina producers such as Nugan Estate
- Botrytis happens naturally in some of the vineyards although a
number of producers use sprinklers to encourage botrytis