Every article so far has been on a wine from California. Most from Napa, some from Sonoma and a couple from other parts of the state. That has been because I love the access to top quality wine from local vintners. Earlier in my "wine" years, I had different regions I loved - namely Australia, Italy and France. We didn't live in California and had much less access to all of these beautiful California wines. I am a creature of habit - so once I started in the California wines I just kept going.
Recently, I thought it would be fun to go back and revisit some of my favorite regions. Top on my list was Australia. They tend to have very warm days with cool ocean air nights, leading to an ideal growing season for flavorful grapes. The wine of choice for this foray was the 2007 Domaine Terlato and Chapoutier Shiraz-Viognier.
The interesting thing about this wine is the decision to take 95 percent of a full bodied red (Shiraz) and match it with 5 percent of a medium bodied, fruit forward white wine (Viognier). The outcome is a wine with a medium purple color and aromatic scents. The smells that emerge as the wine opens up are strawberries, combined with a sweet smelling peach and a hint of spice.
The blend of Shiraz and Viognier also leads to a medium sweet taste. That is caused by the Australian Shiraz's tending to have a "chocolatey" taste while Viogniers characteristically have sweet peach. The sweetness is matched nicely to a medium bodied wine with just a hint of soft tannins. It starts off with a bold flavor, with plenty of berries that tapers off to a balanced and very pleasing finish. All in all, a nicely balanced wine from beginning to end. As for a food pairing, it would work nicely with a chicken (roasted or barbequed), pork or lighter red meat (veal, etc).
This wine has been paired together in more ways than one. First is the obvious pairing of the grapes. Taking a full bodied, heavy Shiraz and pairing it with the medium, sweeter Viognier is a common practice within some of France's well known wine districts. Second is the pairing of two wine families. Anthony Terlato is well known within Napa as a high end importer of wines, while Michel Chapoutier is an admired grower from the Rhône region of France. The two wine magnates jointly bought a vineyard in Australia and created this Shiraz-Viognier. Bringing these two together was a logical choice and results in a refreshing, flavorful and balanced wine. You can find it at Lunardi's for approximately $24 a bottle.
Why did I pick Australia for my first imported wine to review? Italy and France would have been logical choices; however, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Australia. Maybe it's Crocodile Dundee, maybe it's their accent, and maybe it's Foster's beer. But the main reason is my perception of Australia - nice people, nice weather and nice wine.
Until next time, cheers!
Don Colman, the Everyday Wine Guy lives in Danville and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org