Australia’s wine industry has taken a hit in the past few years, and with good reason. Once the darling of the wine community, Australia’s mass-produced ‘critter’ wines is a big reason why many consumers are staying out of the Australia wine aisle. Critter wines are those mass-produced Australian wines that features an animal, and they are artifically oaked and have zero complexity. They are cheap, and they taste cheap. It’s too bad, really! Because there are people in Australia making great wine.
Penfolds was established in 1844 and they have perfected the art of fine wine from Australia. And if you’ve ever had their Grange Shiraz, at $700 a bottle, you would understand why I’m calling it an art form. But you don’t have to spend $700 to get a good bottle of Penfolds.
This Bin 128 is a wonderful Shiraz for $34.99. Considered a cool climate wine from a warm region, which means in this case is that the temperature really drops off fast as harvest time is approaching. Lower temperatures preserve acidity, but can struggle to ripen. This can cause a ‘green’ taste, which is almost bitter. This is not the case with this Penfold’s wine. There is no bitterness, and the tannins are very smooth, caused by the wine being aged for 12 months in smooth French oak, which doesn’t put that funky oaky taste on wine.
The story of Audrey Wilkinson Wines is one of my favorite to come out of Australia, because there is a wonderful Canadian connection. Audrey Wilkinson was a man named by his parents and endured a little teasing. But at age 15, his father died, and Audrey took over the running of the winery. His motto… “It’s all about the wine”!
The story gets even better because the current winemaker for Audrey Wilkinson is from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. His name is Jeff Byrne and he went to Australia for a vacation, and ended up meeting the love of his life and moved there to be married. I had the pleasure of meeting this interesting young man when he visited Nova Scotia back in 2013.
Jeff is making some incredibly good wine. This Shiraz is so good, it’s hard to believe it’s priced at only $24.99. Jeff’s whole focus when it comes to making wine is all about the balance. He doesn’t want sweetness, he doesn’t want too much oak, and he really wants to make good wine that goes well with food.
And my wine of the week also happens to be from Australia…
I had a steak the other night and this is the wine I picked up to pair with that steak. They were awesome together. You know how nice it is to watch two people who have been dancing together for years? This was very similar to that. The Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Cabernet Sauvignon hails from the Clare Valley in Australia, and is named after a gentleman who lived in an old tin shed behind the Kilikanoon’s Cellar door. He was totally self sufficient and grew his own fruits and vegetables and his favorite meal was rabbit. I always enjoy the story behind the wine.
This wine has spent 16 months in both new and seasoned French oak barrels, so there is oak, but it’s not overpowering. I also detected notes of black pepper, so I thought it was a great wine to have with a steak done on the grill.
Today is St. Patrick’s Day, and I know many people opt for the green beer, but you know what? A wee bit of wine is just fine!
Till next week, Cheers