Column: Some other faces of Australian white wines

Flagship wines 25.04.13

Flagship wines 25.04.13 - Credit: Archant

IF you love the lovely tropical buttery Chardonnays, some oak-aged and others not, or the crisp lemony Sauvignon Semillons but would like a change then there’s no need to leave Australian wineries as there’s a raft of alternatives available.

Mouthfilling Chardonnays can be matched in aroma, texture and flavour from some of the Viogniers from the Barossa such as those pioneered by Louisa Rose at Yalumba.

They have all the characteristic aromatic peachy, apricot notes expected of this grape variety together with an ability to age well. Some are oak-aged such as the Eden Valley Viognier and so are great with food as the deep complex vanillary notes match the spicy notes of Chinese foods.

Others like the ‘Y’ range are unoaked and are a delightful mouthful of ripe, smooth peachy fruit flavours.

If you like Viognier then you’ll also like Money Spider Roussanne made d’Arenberg in McLaren Vale which has many subtle notes of flowers, pine needles, preserved lemon and cooked apple on the nose with exotic fruits such as melon and paw paw amongst the ginger and spice on the palate.

Better known in the Rhone Valley and South of France this grape makes complex wines such as this with good ageing potential. The first crop of Roussanne was covered in a sea of tiny money spiders and popular belief is that kindness to these creatures will bring good luck!

Besides the ability to make robust mouthfilling wines in the hot climate Australian winemakers are also proving that it is possible to capture the wonderful ripe fruit notes in lighter wines when the grapes are picked slightly earlier.

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As a result they are lower in alcohol, around 12 per cent, have a little more acidity and a refreshing crisp palate. Look out for wines such as the Scrubby Rise White Sauvignon Semillon Viognier from Wirra Wirra winery in McLaren Vale which is a great alternative to a straight Sauvignon Blanc and has aromatic notes with lingering zingy passion fruit, citrus and apricot flavours.

The Yalumba Christobel Classic Dry White which is a dry blend of Semillon - which the Barossa does so well and Sauvignon Blanc, which the adjoining Adelaide Hills region is becoming renowned for plus some zesty Savagnin. There are melon and fig flavours enhanced by zesty sherbert, while the finish is clean and crisp.

The Riesling grape also comes into its own in Australia producing wines with concentrated floral and limey citrus notes on the aroma and a lively zesty lime flavour that lingers.

They are delightful on their own as an aperitif or great when teamed with spicy recipes. Wines such as the Jim Barry Lodge Hill Riesling from the Clare Valley or the Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling show just how good these can be ensuring thoughts of bland slightly sweet German Rieslings are left behind.

So for those people for whom oaked Chardonnay is an anathema try the unoaked versions or seek out some of the alternatives that Australian winemakers are proving they do so well.