A few weeks back I attended an Australian wine event in Manhattan. This particular tasting was an interesting one indeed. Some of the country’s leading family-owned and multi-generational producers selected wines from their libraries to showcase to American trade and media. The main portion of the tasting was a sit-down seminar led by Mark Davidson, Australia’s worldwide wine educator. Alongside him, family members from each winery whose offerings were being poured that day were on hand to speak about their wine and Australia in general. There are a couple of general misconceptions floating around about Australian wine. One is that the country’s producers make big, blustery wines that are long on upfront fruit and flash and short on finish and substance. The other is that that Australian wines don’t age. The problem is neither point is really valid; certainly not as wholesale statements. Every wine-producing country has great, good, and bad producers. Certainly, Australia still has some who make boatloads of overripe shiraz. However, there are many more making proportionate shiraz as well as a very wide range of other offerings. It’s time to realize that there are as many diverse styles coming out of Australia as any other wine-making country. Not to mention much, much more than just shiraz, no matter how tasty it can be. Head Over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
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The last selection I looked at from Smidge Wines this week is The Donald. It's a Zinfandel from Barossa Valley. It strikes me as fitting that Zinfandel is starting to emerge from Australia. Many of the characteristics of great Shiraz are reminiscent of great Zinfandel. So it should only be a matter of time before we see significant inroads in the amount of Zinfandel being produced in Australia. If that's the case, Smidge Wines will have a leg up as they already produce two Zinfandel's. The Donald spent 11 months in 2-4 year oak before being bottled unfiltered. A mere 140 cases of The Donald were produced and it retails for $29.
The nose of The Donald is full of dark berry fruit and mocha notes. The first sip reveals lots of black pepper and spice continuing through a mid-palate that is deep, dark and reminiscent of Bosco due to the mouth-filling chocolate notes that absolutely envelope the palate and explode on the back of the throat with the smooth feel of syrup. The finish has some light toasty notes and more spice accompanied by the ever-present mocha notes that carry themselves throughout The Donald. This is a big, rich and extravagant tasting wine that's balanced by firm acidity and gentle tannins. A steak would be a terrific match for The Donald as would dark chocolate.
Zinfandel in Australia is essentially in it's infancy. But Smidge Wines has managed to produce one that is reminiscent of some of the great California Zinfandel's of the Dry Creek Valley. An area that often sets the benchmark for Zinfandel.
The Donald was tight and a bit tart coming out of the bottle. I recommend decanting it for about 90 minutes to get maximum pleasure when drinking it. Having had Smidge The Wine Australia Festival and again this week I feel strongly about recommending them as one to look out for. A ton of Australian Wine makes it to the Unite States and it's often hard to navigate through all that's available. Smidge Wines are one producer that it's worth going out of your way to find. I'd expect The Donald to drink well at least through 2011.
Coming Up: A Week long look at Mendocino's Brutocao Cellars
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