The Elevated Australian Wines Worth Sipping This Winter
A quintuple of exemplary Australians to see you through the cooler months.
As the mercury drops, so too does our predilection for chilled whites and rosé, with the onset of the cooler months calling for bigger, bolder drops. Whether it be single varietals or blends, our pours of choice are equal parts heady and hearty, with medium- and full-bodied pours rife with rich fruits, well-articulated tannins, and a touch of spice. Showcasing the diversity of our country and the singular approach to winemaking down under, these are the best Australian wines to try this winter.
Henschke Hill Of Grace Shiraz 2018, Eden Valley
In a tasting to celebrate the 60 years between this wine and the very first Hill of Grace release, it immediately set itself among the top tier, a worthy peer to wines like the sublime 1958, the ethereal ’66, the elegant ’72 and the rightly famous ’86. It may one day even surpass them. It’s incredibly composed and finely layered, every return to the glass brings another revelation. Dark cherries and ripe plums, fennel seed and espresso, the crispy burnt ends of char sieu. There’s a beguiling velvety quality to the wine as it moves across the palate with assuredness and, dare we say it, grace. One of the greats.
Yalumba “The Caley” Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2018, Barossa Valley & Coonawarra
This is just the sixth release of what wine trade insiders are calling “The Super Claret”, but in that short time, The Caley has re-written expectations of the great Australian blend. It leans into its Coonawarra cabernet component for dark cassis fruit, intricate leafy etching and finely ground tannin, while the supple and softly spiced Barossa shiraz wraps some sinewy flesh around the wine’s internal framework. This is a wine born from a rich history striding into an exciting future, changing the conversation around what great, medium-bodied, finely structured Australian red wines can be.
Swinney “Farvie” Mourvédre 2021, Frankland River
The remote Swinney vineyard in Frankland River may be, in one sense, a long way from anywhere, but in another, it sits right at the heart of a revolution. In recent years, the wines they have released under the Farvie label—tiny productions from the very best blocks on the property—have garnered global praise the likes of which you rarely see. Having wowed the world with a syrah and a grenache, the Swinney family have just released their first mourvedre under the Farvie label, and it is breathtaking. Obsessively managed bush vines have produced a wine that captures the dichotomy at the heart of this beguiling variety, delivering the high-toned fragrance and spice the variety can achieve entwined with the broody, savoury earthiness that defines it. Get in on the ground floor, this wine is going places.
Yangarra “High Sands” Grenache 2021, Mclaren Vale
We’re living in a golden age of Australian grenache, where winemakers with real understanding of the variety are working with old vineyards to produce wines elevating both the variety’s easy propensity for perfume with the more elusive structural detail only the best examples attain. This wine, from vines nearing 80 years of age that sit tenuously in ancient sand so fine a fart from a passing sparrow could dislodge them, has done more than any other to lead Australian grenache into this gilded age. Its fragrance delivers dark cherries and dried raspberries, an underlying seam of cloves and star anise. The palate is beautifully supple and shapely, bright fruit slowly yielding to a savoury earthiness; a swathe of highly pixelated, finely granular tannins tighten and lengthen the wine through to its finish. Undeniably entrenched among the greatest grenache on earth.
Yarra Yering “Carrodus” Pinot Noir 2021, Yarra Valley
When Oxford-educated Dr Bailey Carrodus established Yarra Yering in 1969, he did so with a singularly defined vision of what it should and could be. Not everyone could see it, and many were a little put out by how firmly he held it. By the time of his death in 2008, he had been thoroughly vindicated. Fifteen years later, with the estate guided by the brilliant Sarah Crowe, the wines are continually compelling endorsements of his vision. Especially those released under the label that carry his name. This utterly beguiling, dream-haunting pinot is a case in point, a wine with the character and class Carrodus strove for. It’s a wine that says plenty without shouting, reveals layers with assurance, not a rush, and glides across the palate like a ballerina’s ghost.
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