11/07/07 – Australian whites

By Jesse on November 5, 2007


A few weeks ago we had a delicious tasting of full-bodied Australian reds. But did you know that Australian whites can be full-bodied too? Because they can! Now you know. (Here’s another fun fact: “In 2000, Great Britain imported more wine from Australia than from France for the first time in history.” Thank you, wikipedia.)

Australian whites can also be light, fruity, vibrant and expressive. They may be more likely than any wine but New Zealand to be sealed with a screwcap. They may also be likely to be blended with “non-traditional” partners, i.e. Chardonnay and Semillon (something that would be unthinkable in France). Here are the varietals you should look for:

Chardonnay: Australia’s leading white grape in terms of quantity — and, many would suggest, quality. This blog suggests that the best Australian Chardonnays, however, are the young, fresher ones, and that the bigger ones don’t cellar very well.

Sauvignon Blanc: New Zealand’s signature white also does well over in Aussie land. They may be riper in flavor with higher acidity and less tropical fruit and grass.

Riesling: Steve at Vendome tells me that all Australian Rieslings have a nose that smells like tires….. so we have that to look forward to. Hopefully they’ll taste like something else entirely, i.e. good wine.

Semillon: Traditionally the blending partner of Sauvignon Blanc in white Bordeaux, Semillon has taken off in Australia, and white wine lovers know that this flavorful grape has some of the longest aging potential of any white wine. (I still fondly recall dining at that restaurant in Hawaii last year and ordering a 1995 Semillon, which was delicious, for only $25 or so.) Wine Spectator recently ran a feature about the merits of Australian Semillon, specifically from the Hunter Valley, which I will bring in. Anyone interested in reading more about Hunter Valley Semillon should check out this article and this one too.

Also be on the lookout for dessert wines, many of which will be blends of several of the grapes above, and which can still be very affordable. (Speaking of affordability, feel free to bring a $10 wine donation if you’d prefer not to buy a bottle.)

Meeting is at Emily‘s place in Hollywood. Chill your delicious white or your $10 donation… bring an interesting article, anecdote, or embarassing story… and we’ll see you on Wednesday at 9pm.