By Franz Scheurer
Exploring the less mainstream grape varieties or wine growing regions is well worth it and every now and then you come across a winner. Here are some of my favourites:
Matt Hunter at Langanook Wines in the granite slopes near Bendigo, in Victoria, is both winemaker and viticulturist on his tiny 4-acre estate. Situated at an altitude of 450m adjacent to the Heathcote cool climate apple orchards and, although similar in climate to the Adelaide Hills, it is considerably cooler than Bendigo, Heathcote or Bordeaux for that matter. Matt is a firm believer that good wines are first made in the vineyard and his winemaking techniques follow the principal of minimal intervention and minimal fining. All his wines have a low pH and should cellar well. Three of his wines caught my attention: the 2001 Syrah, a peppery, spicy red with underlying aromas of liquorice, the 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2000 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Blend. The 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon is aged in one and two year old French and American wood for one year. Excellent fruit and surprising length make this a very attractive young wine. The 2000 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc blend is aged in new French oak for two years and only the best parcels of fruit are used. The resulting wine is velvety smooth and toasty, with mint and blueberries competing with a savoury complexity. Great wine and will be even better in 10 years time!
Available cellar door.
91 McKittericks Road
(off Faraday / Sutton Grange Road)
Langanook VIC 3450
Tel.: 03 5474 8250
Paringa Estate Pinot Gris 2001
Congratulations to wine maker Lindsay McCall who makes the best Alsatian style Pinot Gris from Australia that I have tasted. Full of fruit with a bit of residual sugar this is my favourite wine to accompany Chinese food. It just loves Peking Duck.
Available from good bottle shops and cellar door.
44 Paringa Road
Red Hill South VIC 3937
Tel.: 03 5989 2669
Stoney Rise Hey Hey Rosť, 2002
This wine from Robe in South Australia exhibits lots of ripe cranberry and is a very easy to drink rosť with a dry finish crafted by the very gifted Joe Holyman who believes in making distinctive wines with lots of complexity derived from quality fruit rather than too much oak or heavy-handed wine making.
Available cellar door.
Stoney Rise Wine Company Pty. Ltd.
Main South Eastern Road
Mt. Benson SA 5275
Tel.: 08 8332 3682
Mob: 0417 855 753
Box Stallion Arneis 2001
Arneis is an Italian variety that is even scarce in Italy, where it produces austere aperitif wines that are meant to be drunk young. Gary Crittenden has produced an Arneis in his i-Range for a few years but the fruit actually came from Box Stallion. Now they have released their own and it is a terrific wine. Almondy, spicy with a hint of stone fruit this is quite a full-bodied white wine. Although quite different to the Italian style, this is an excellent wine and a great accompaniment to rich seafood. Have it with a simply grilled fresh lobster tail with some beurre noisette.
Available from good bottle stores and cellar door.
Box Stallion Pty. Ltd.
64 Tubbarubba Road
Merricks North VIC 3925
Tel.: 03 5989 7444
Manus Creek Tumbarumba Cabernet Merlot, 2000
Situated at the western foothills of the Snowy Mountains, Tumbarumba Wine Estates uses exclusively their own cool climate fruit to produce this mellow red that is full of gutsy flavours. Partly vinified at the Charles Sturt University, this is a very drinkable wine with strong blackberry fruit, good colour and soft tannins.
Available mail order or from the Elms Restaurant in Tumbarumba.
Tumbarumba Wine Estates
Glenroy Hills Road
Tumbarumba NSW 2653
Tel.: 02 6948 4457