With frenzied fireworks and flag flying, January 26 marked Australia Day, one of the biggest celebrations in the calendar, and also, equally importantly, the beginning of the wine harvest.
Widely regarded as one of the country’s best white grapes, why not enjoy a classic textbook style of chardonnay from Hardys, the No.. 1 selling wine brand in the UK?
Hardys William Hardy Chardonnay 2012, Australia (£8.99, Tesco) is fun and uncomplicated, with plenty of ripe, tropical fruit with peach and apricot flavours and the subtle hint of oak with creamy overtones lingering nicely on the finish.
Australia also likes to turn its hand to sauvignon blanc, and examples such as Baron’s Ridge Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Australia (£9.59 from £11, www.virginwines.co.uk) could sway fans of this Kiwi favourite to be more adventurous and try a cool climate Aussie instead, loaded with vibrant gooseberry fruit and a good balance of lime on the snappy finish.
Yalumba Eden Valley Roussanne 2012, Australia (£14.99, www.liquidpleasure.co.uk) is a real corker. Elegant and silky with a perfumed nose, melon and peach tinged fruit and a hint of vanilla custard, this is an uber-delicious white wine.
Australia’s bold and and beautiful reds have also found fame and fortune, and some of its bestselling wines are made from shiraz and cabernet sauvignon.
For a good entry level style, try Waitrose Smooth and Spicy Australian Red NV S Australia (£4.99, Waitrose). With a red berry nose, juicy cherry and raspberry fruit, the blend of cabernet sauvignon and shiraz is – as it says on the tin – smooth and spicy, with a hint of leather and balanced palate.
Outstanding value while on promotion, Lindeman’s Bin 50 Shiraz 2012, Australia (£6.29 from £8.49, from January 22 until February 11, Waitrose) is blessed with sumptuous brambly overtones and the dense, blackberry fruit against a backbone of fine tannins with cracked black pepper and spice make this full-bodied red a great choice if you’re entertaining friends.
To remind us that winemakers are, after all, farmers, the label on The Grower’s Reserve Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Australia (£9.99, www.laithwaites.co.uk) features a father and son on a tractor and this top-notch, lip-smacking red marries dark plummy fruits with sweet blackberry flavours for a velvety smooth, mouthfeel with a hint of black olive and cedar wood.
An Australian icon, Penfolds have been at the top of their game since its first commercial release in 1952, when Penfolds Grange entered the luxury arena and became Australia’s answer to First Growth Bordeaux. To tap into this premier winery and the ultimate example of a warm-climate Australian Shiraz, try Penfolds 2010 Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz, South Australia (£16.20, www.laywheeler.com).
Peter Gago, Penfolds current winemaker says: “Bin 28 is both a fantastic wine for relatively early drinking, and in some instances a wine that can be cellared for many years - a classic Australian Shiraz against which many wineries benchmark their wines.”