Everyone loves Aussie Wine, mate? I’m sure it’s just my problem, that the overwhelming fruit bomb experience with wine from Australia, has been turning off the taste buds in my palate. Or am I not alone?
Well, I will get punched, killed and put on a char grill by many if I keep putting down the Down Under wine for its generally lack of sophistication and complexity. Who am I to criticize it when I am not a wine professional, nor have I tried enough Aussie wine for the claim? So, to eradicate my bias, I shall set a course to explore more.
Start with Food
The occasion was a good friend’s anniversary dinner which we promised to prepare. When the main course was decided on Boston Bay live mussels while shopping at the Great Supermarket (Pacific Place at Admiralty, Hong Kong), I sought the opportunity to get an Aussie wine, matching both origins. It was actually my first purchase of Australian wine since I joined the exciting world of wine! The Chapel Hill George Block Chardonnay was selected because it’s one of the few South Australia wine on sale, and looked less cheesy. Pardon my lack of knowledge here, of using such an “ingenious” way to choose my first Aussie wine.
My plan was to cook the mussels with part of the chardonnay and drink the remaining during the dinner. It turned out to be a good plan.
No fruit bomb
Yeah, the term is usually used to describe heavy red wine with lots of fat fruitiness, lack of acidity and balance. It happens to badly made over extracted white wine as well. My “ingenious” method of wine selection did not let me down. Upon opening, the bouquet was subtle and clear, solid stone fruit and refreshing citrus in the palate, underneath the medium body. An interesting hint of tannin (usually non existing in white wine) suggested oak contact, showing no sign of fruit bomb. I poured out a full glass to cook and put the bottle back in fridge for later.
Great mussels broth
Pairing the mussels pasta with the remaining chardonnay was also a great match. The slight hint of tannin was gone by the time we started having it with the mussels. Another score by our Aussie contestant.
What about the Croze Hermitage? Thalabert has been making successful Rhone wine, and this 2009 was no exception. It had wonderful dark fruit, was full body, balanced and fairly long finish. But the Croze Hermitage was not the main character here. I shall skip the details although we enjoyed it very much without food after dinner.
Mission accomplished. Or at least the first attempt to break my bias had positive results. Although not as sophisticated and complicated as the Burgundy white, this clean and refreshing McLaren Vale Chardonnay managed to “correct” my stereotype towards Aussie wine. It was a first step, but an optimistic one. Hopefully, I would gain more experience and knowledge about the wine of Australia soon. Fingers crossed!