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JOHN ROZENTALS declares a love for tempranillo … and reckons the red variety is established enough here to be regarded as mainsteam.

June 21, 2019 Beverage, Headline News No Comments Email Email

I really like tempranillo as a red grape variety for Australia. Always have, ever since I tasted my first ‘local’ example — from Tim Adams in South Australia’s Clare Valley, I think, though it could have been from Andrew Birks’ Wagga-based Bidgeebong venture.

The variety is best known as the principal grape of Spain’s famous Rioja (pronounced with a ‘k’ rather than a ‘j’) but is these days well established enough here to be regarded as mainstream.

In the variety’s comparatively early days in Australia Tim had Isaac Muga, from Rioja’s renowned Muga family, come and help him.

Isaac was mighty impressed with what he saw in Tim’s Ladera Vineyard — the term is Spanish for ‘ladder’ — and agreed that the variety did best under tough conditions.

Regardless of how it is grown, tempranillo will never outshine this palate’s favourite Australian red, shiraz, but it will go a long way towards producing more immediately drinkable reds here than does cabernet sauvignon.

Peter Douglas, who is one of Coonawarra’s most accomplished winemakers, has also taken a shine to tempranillo.

He used to be the Chief Winemaker at Wynns Coonawarra Estate, but then spread his wings to work in the Northern Hemisphere for a while before returning to Coonawarra and its surrounding Limestone Coast as a consultant winemaker, with one of his main clients being Di Giorgio Family Wines.



Di Giorgio Family Wines 2016 Tempranillo ($23): This is a medium-bodied, easy-drinking style of red that Peter Douglas has fashioned from Limestone Coast fruit and is dominated by the flavour of red cherries. Oak is only of secondary importance here. Do as the Spaniards themselves do and enjoy a glass with a plate of tapas, especially one containing lots of olives, cheeses and chorizo.

Di Giorgio Family Wines 2016 Coonawarra Shiraz ($26): Not surprisingly, my favourite if the latest quartet of Di Giorgio Family Wines red releases. It’s a ripper, loaded with the savoury flavours of dark berries and spices, with quite obvious black pepper. New oak is also there, as is dark chocolate. Follow the winemaker and drink with char-grilled lamb and baby eggplant.


Xanadu 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon ($40): Regardless of grape variety used, this Margaret River dry red is definitely one of Australia’s best, having won the esteemed Jimmy Watson Trophy for best young red at the Melbourne Wine Show. It’s certainly powerful and varietally pure. It will cellar for many years yet, but if you must drink it now please do so with some really fine lamb.

Written by John Rozentals

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