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JOHN ROZENTALS encourages wine drinkers to get away from ‘same, same’

January 8, 2018 Beverage No Comments Email Email

I’ve always been a little perplexed by how readily Francophile the Australian wine industry has been in its selection of grape varieties.

Our vineyards have, over a couple of hundred years, been planted to cabernet sauvignon, merlot and semillon from Bordeaux, syrah (aka shiraz) from the Rhone Valley, more recently chardonnay and pinot noir from Burgundy and Champagne, and sauvignon blanc from the Loire.

One could argue that Germany’s greatest variety, riesling, has bucked that trend, but even it, along with pinot gris, is also extensively grown in the French district of Alsace.

Yet it’s been only quite recently that we’ve embraced, for instance, tempranillo, the viticultural foundation stone of Rioja, the greatest of Spain’s vineyard regions.

Even more surprising, given the key role of migration from Italy in our social make-up, is the relative absence, again until really quite recently, of the great Italian red grape varieties such as nebbiolo, barbera and sangiovese.

Perhaps it’s because Australia’s winemaking forefathers — and, yes, the industry was originally dominated by men — were influenced by the British, who had long embraced the wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy as the epitome of civilisation.

Anyway, the situation is slowly being addressed by the likes of Angullong, on the slopes of Mount Canobolas near Orange.

It recently released a couple of wines made from Spanish and Italian varieties under its Fossil Hill label — a tempranillo and a sangiovese from the 2016 vintage  — and they could certainly be the go of you’re seeking a diversion from ‘same, same’.



Angullong 2016 Fossil Hill Sangiovese ($26): grapevines are propagated from cuttings and different source materials show variations that are known as clones. This medium-bodied dry red is made from the ‘brunello’ and ‘piccolo’ sangiovese clones, which produce smaller, more intensely flavoured berries than the ‘grosso’ clone, which is proving ideal for making the Angullong Rosato. I like this dry red a great deal and find it a good match for range of red meats, especially rare beef.

Angullong 2016 Fossil Hill Tempranillo $26: Tempranillo is one of Spain’s most famous wine varieties. It has become one of our most popular wines, and is consistently awarded in the wine-show circuit. This 2016 vintage has considerable complexity, dominated by the aromas of dark berries against a spicy, herbal background. The flavours are in the savoury spectrum and it is a firm young red with ample tannins that will soften with cellaring.


Wild Oats 2015 Mudgee Chardonnay ($20): It isn’t often that I come across a completely confounding wine, especially at this sort of mid-price-point. Yet this dry white carries quite a distinct flavour of smoked bacon. Not the in-your-face aroma you get when you’re grilling bacon; rather the subtle aroma you get when you’re eating bacon-and-eggs in a hotel dining room well away from a cooking station. It isn’t an unpleasant flavour at all and overall it’s a well balanced dry white that I quite like. Now, bring on the fried eggs.

Written by John Rozentals

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