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Do you know your Merlot from your Shiraz?


Riesling is typically a sweet wine however nowadays, most Rieslings are DRY!! Australia produces some lovely Rieslings, particularly from the Clare Valley (SA), Eden Valley (SA) or Mt Baker (WA). Rieslings can be served as apertifs or are quite versatile with food.

The Moscato wine variety is part of the Italian Muscat family. Typically sweet, lightly fizzy and lower in alcohol than many other white wines. Muscat wines almost always have a pronounced sweet, floral aroma. A wine that’s soft and spritzy, it is best enjoyed with desserts or soft chesses and is a perfect wine for Summer.

Pinot Noir
The best examples of still Pinot Noir comes from Burgundy (very expensive) but excellent wines are being made in New Zealand and Tasmania, Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula. One of the all-time great wine and food combinations is Pinot and duck.

Shiraz is the red grape variety of Australia. Australia’s most famous is Penfolds Grange, which has gained legendary status. It can produce three quite distinct styles – the peppery numbers from cool-climate areas, the more alcoholic, rich fruity styles of the Barossa and McLaren Valleys, or the soft, fresh style of the Hunter Valley. Take your pick.

Sauvignon Blanc
The original Sauvignon Blanc is from the Loire region of France. New Zealand, particularly the Marlborough area of the South Island, produces many of the best Sauvignons sold in Australia. Most Sauvignons are best drunk young and fresh. Sauvignon Blanc is often blended with Semillon – this is a common practise in Margaret River to create the “classic dry white” style.

Pinot Grigio / Pinot Gris
Pinot Grigio / Gris is becoming vastly popular in Australia. The style varies from lightbodied and fairly straight forward (Pinot grigio) to rich and complex wines (Pinot gris) that are almost overwhelming in their voluptuousness. It is especially suitable in the cooler regions such as Adelaide Hills, the Yarra Valley and Tasmania.

Varietal Merlots have recently become popular in Australia. Some good Merlots are coming from McLaren Vale (SA) and the Hunter Valley (NSW). It is, however, most commonly seen in Australia blended with Cabernet Sauvignon.

Red Blends
The aim of blending is to make a whole wine that is greater than the sum of its parts. The number of red wine blends in the market place has become vast with such combinations as Cabernet Shiraz Merlot or Shiraz Viogner.

Chardonnay can produce some of the very best and some of the very worst wines made. Chardonnay is also used in producing Champagne and sparkling wine.

White Blends
The aim of blending is to make a whole wine that is greater than the sum of its parts. Some grape varieties share a great synergy like the blends of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Margaret River is home to the original Classic Dry White style which is created from white blends.

Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon makes full-bodied, intensely flavoured and long-lived reds. It performs well in Chile and California and Italy. In Australia, the best examples come from the cooler climates such as Margaret River and Mt Barker (WA) and, of course, Coonawarra. Good examples will always reward cellaring.

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