Sunday, February 17, 2008

Australian Wines

I never used to drink wine. Didn't have a taste for the stuff.

But during one particularly cold winter, I acquired a taste for it.

Previously, if any, I preferred the sweet taste of white wines. Red wines, on the other hand, I found too strong, bitter, too winey lol...

But I acquired a taste for red wines after I drank this brand. Wynn's Coonawara. Back then it was pretty cheap. $17 per bottle back in 1997. Great vintage that year. The Cab Sab (Cabernet Sauvignon) is an excellent choice. Or try the merlot if you fancy something more mellow and smooth.

I found the "Cab Sab"s mellow, flavorsome yet subtle. Not too overpowering. And really nice to have on a cold winter night when the temperature is under 10C and the wind is howling outside.

It might be a good bottle for novices to red wine.

Coonawara is actually a region in South Australia. Quite a number of vineyards are based there. You can get (skins) or no brand bottles from the region at $10 a bottle. Good stuff to keep for a year or so.

From the
Founded by John Riddoch in 1890, the Coonawarra region lies in South Australia’s Limestone Coast viticultural zone, mid-way between Adelaide and Melbourne and one hundred kilometres inland from the Southern Ocean.

Over the ensuing century Coonawarra earned the reputation of being ‘the most preferred region in Australia for red wine’, but it was not until 2003 that its boundary was legally defined by the Geographic Indications Committee.

Located largely in the Hundreds of Penola and Comaum, this 400 square kilometre region extends some sixteen kilometres into South Australia from the Victorian border. However, its heart is a narrow terra rossa ridge, 27 kilometres long and averaging only 1.8 kilometres wide. Comprising 4820 hectares and accounting for just 12% of the Coonawarra region, it is on this unique soil that the best vineyards are located.

The Riddoch Highway follows the crest of the ridge and visitors remark with pleasure, as they drive its length, that reading the winery signboards is just like reading the wine list of any first class restaurant.

With its terra rossa soil and passionate winemakers, the Coonawarra region can't help but make fine wine. With Cabernet Sauvignon the undoubted star, the region is renowned for the production of some of Australia's greatest red wines.

Coonawarra lies within South Australia's Limestone Coast Zone. The region nudges the Victorian border 380km south east of Adelaide.

The climate is Mediterranean with cooling maritime influences off the Southern Ocean. Rainfall is low especially during the growing season, necessitating irrigation.

The region lies on a ridge 59m above sea level. The surrounding country is flat, frosty and poorly drained.

Coonawarra was entered onto the Register of Protected Names after an eight year battle over boundaries. The fight was protracted because the name Coonawarra is world famous and because that fame comes from the earth. The famous Terra Rossa is red-brown topsoil laid over a thin layer of calcrete (calcium carbonate) sitting on a white limestone base. This soil gives the wine its terrior or flavour of the soil. Black soil areas are interspersed amongst the Terra Rossa and these soils produce quite different wines. And there lay the difficulty, how to impose bureaucratic neatness on nature.

Coonawarra has become synonymous with Cabernet Sauvignon. It's the star performer on the Terra Rossa. Overall the region produces quality reds from Shiraz, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Malbec and Merlot grapes. White grape varieties include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling and Semillon.

The first vineyard was planted in the 1880s at Yallum, a property established by John Riddoch primarily for sheep grazing. The region did not establish its reputation as a viticultural area until the 1950s when Wynns and Penfolds purchased acreage on the back of a resurgence in the table wine market. Investment by large and small companies led to expansion, securing Coonawarrra's status as a great wine region which was founded on the pioneering work of vignerons like John and Owen Redman of Rouge Homme.

Harvest time: late March to early May

Read more here:

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