By Bruce Cochran
Let’s celebrate the coming springtime with a discussion of a white wine that showed very well at a recent eWine Sampling. I know that to some of you white wine is something to clear the palate for the reds, but a world without it would be a little less interesting.
Taste something good this week!
New World style wines
Wines from Australia and California are similar in several ways. Both are part of what is called the New World (Europe being the old), and both produce wines in what is called the “New World” style. That means riper grapes, more fruit, less earthiness.
Both Australia and California have generally warm climates, with their best vineyards located near the cool waters of the Pacific Ocean. The breezes keep the coastal areas a little cooler than areas farther inland. Since both grow grapes like chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, originally from France, that’s important.
Aside from climate and resulting wine styles, both places speak English and label their wines mostly by the grape variety. Old World labeling tends to emphasize place names.
One thing that isn’t often discussed is regional differences, obviously important since a chardonnay grown in one part of California can have a completely different style from one grown in another part (example: Russian River Valley vs. Edna Valley). Listing specific growing regions is emerging even later in Australia than it did in California. Most Australian wines will say they are from “South East Australia.” That’s a combination of three states. One of these, South Australia, is one of the country’s best.
These are good times to consider Australian wines. They grow the same grapes as California, in similar styles, with similarly easy-to-understand labels. And prices are good due to years of large harvests. A recent short harvest may or may not have an effect in the future.
At the recent eWine tasting, Penfolds Thomas Hylands Chardonnay from South Australia impressed a lot of tasters. It was balanced, richly textured, a fine combination of pure chardonnay fruit and just enough—but not too much—oak. It retails in the $15 to $20 dollar price range.
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