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Tannic Panic! Issue #10: Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi
Australian Wine on a Dime
CROIKEY MATES! It must be Wednesday, because we’re back AGAIN to flap our tiny little digital jaws about that sweet, sweet juice.
This week, we’re taking a trip down under to a little island known simply as “Australia” in search of some great bottles that won’t force you to sell your house or put a reverse-mortgage on your favorite pet emu.
DID YOU KNOW… Australia is home to some of the world's oldest continuously producing Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon vines, some of which are over 150 years old. This is because Australia was one of the few wine-producing countries not devastated by the phylloxera outbreak in the late 19th century.
Australians are a friendly lot and their wines are no different — and when it comes to value reds, it’s a great place to look.
There is so much more to Australian wine than one might initially comprehend — not just hot climate New World fruit bombs or an endless slew of Shiraz (ONLY NEARLY ENDLESS).
The land of the roos also sports cool climate regions, as well as some that are more “Bordeaux-like,” and produces a wide array of varietals, untethered by the stringent constraints of the Old World.
If you aren’t an Aussie yourself, and you haven’t had the pleasure of bopping on down to check it out, you might be scratching your melon asking “wadiyatalkinabeet?”
With 65 designated wine regions stretching across the vast expanse of its territories — from the ocean-influenced vineyards of Margaret River to the warmer Mediterranean climate of the McLaren Vale — Australia presents a variety of microclimates and terroirs that result in a spectacular range of wine styles.
Now there are many regions in Australia that are worth exploring, but for the sake of saving your pretty little heads from an information overload, let’s take a look-see at the ones that produced the bottles we are recommending today.
Though it produces a tiny fraction of the country's total wine output, Margaret River has an international reputation for its premium wine production, especially Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Its unique maritime climate, ancient soils, and the influence of the Indian and Southern Oceans contribute to the elegance and fruit intensity of these wines. What’s more, it’s not just the high end bottles that impress — Margaret River is an excellent place to search for value, producing some delicious wines at shockingly low price points.
McLaren Vale is famous for its rich, bold Shiraz, which is the region's most widely planted variety and accounts for more than half of its output. These wines often express rich black fruit flavors, chocolate notes, and an unmistakable warmth that reflects the region's sunny climate (AND SUNNY PEOPLE).
Coonawarra is perhaps most famous for its exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon wines, which are highly prized for their intensity of flavor, structure, and remarkable aging potential. They typically display notes of blackcurrant, black cherry and mint, with nuances of the region's characteristic eucalyptus (a note we closely associate with Australian wine in general, and which showed in several of the bottles we reviewed).
Every wine has a story, and the cheaper ones often tell the tale of bulk wine production with a lack of personality. But some Australian wines, like the Wonky Wallaby Shiraz or the Dingo’s Dreamboat Cab (OF COURSE THEY’RE REAL ) offer complex narratives of delicious flavors and sustainable practices. All that for a price that makes you chuckle with disbelief. LOOK OUT FOR SUCH GEMS.
Jokes aside, we went ahead and found some such gems, so dump out your case of Yellow Tail and give these bad boys a gander — all available at Total Wine & More for $20 or less.
PICKS OF THE WEEK (IN ORDER OF PRICE):
Notes: Black cherry, raspberry, cedar, fresh mint, eucalyptus
This bad boy comes out swinging with fruit notes of black cherry and raspberry gracefully intertwined with cedar and loads of fresh mint/eucalyptus character — the quintessential Coonawarra cab profile. It’s medium-bodied and well-structured with a medium-length finish that lingers like the echo of a didgeridoo in the Outback—mysterious, intriguing, and leaving you wanting just a bit more.
FOR A GOOD TIME, pair it with a wild mushroom flatbread.
Notes: Black cherry, graphite, cedar, green bell pepper, campfire smoke, eucalyptus
Imagine, if you will (OR IF YOU WON’T), popping a ripe black cherry into your mouth while scribbling your manic thoughts on a cedar block with a pencil (graphite, my dear Watson, graphite!) Now layer in some green bell pepper, a little eucalyptus, and a smoky element subtle enough to give the wine character without making you feel like you're sipping it at a bushfire.
It rounds off with a medium-length finish that’ll keep you hyped on that next sip.
Pair it with penne alla arrabbiata.
Notes: Black cherry, blackberry, cassis, nutmeg, cedar, tobacco
If you’re looking for a bargain Aussie wine, then look no further, because Miles From Nowhere is the place to be. It is surprisingly complex with dark fruit flavors (black cherry, blackberry, cassis), spice, and notes of cedar and tobacco. Like its Fossick Margaret River compatriot, it is a blend of 85% Cab Sauv / 15% Merlot, and also sports high acid that is balanced by good tannin structure. Delicious flavors hang around for an impressively long finish given the $15 price point. This one wins the title of value pick.
Pair it with pine nut pesto spaghetti (AND GO HEAVY ON THEM PINE NUTS).
Notes: Freshly picked blackberries, black plum, black pepper, chocolate, licorice, eucalyptus
Ah yes, what would a set of Aussie wine recs be without at least one bottle of Shiraz? This is a very fresh and juicy style of shiraz with no signs of flavor manipulation or overuse of oak (as is often the case with inexpensive Australian red wines). It features delightfully fresh flavors of dark fruits (blackberries, plums), with a kick of black pepper, rich chocolate, licorice — and Davey must've invited some koalas over for supper because there's a eucalyptus note that will leave you with the distinct sensation of hugging a tree.
It’s full bodied (like the humble koala) and well-balanced (ALSO LIKE THE HUMBLE KOALA), with fresh acidity and round tannins. The flavors linger in an equally koala-like fashion, making this bottle an all around good time.
Pair with Impossible Sausage Rolls (we have a killer recipe complete with the dankest sauce known to mankind that we’ll release down the line, but if you are eager to try it, shoot us a message and we’ll be happy to share)
In total Australia produced about 1.3 billion liters of wine between 2021-2022, accounting for approximately 5% of the world's wine market, which is no small feat. As such, it is a burden we all must bear to relieve said market of its proverbial baggage.
Yeah nah, yeah nah, yeah nah — drink up ya feckin winos.
Isaac & Zach
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