Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pale, dry and delicious

Photo by James Broadway
The most exciting development in Australian gastronomy over the last decade has been the proliferation of new, deliciously dry, pale-coloured pink wines emerging from our top vineyards and cellar doors.

A big call, I know. But I think I might actually be serious. As much as I love the bold, boisterous flavours of the classic, deep-magenta-hued Aussie rosé (think Charlie Melton’s always-splendid Rose of Virginia, or Angove’s ridiculously good-value Nine Vines Rosé), I think the subtler perfume, the lighter body and - most importantly - the savoury finish of the new breed of pale pink wines makes them more versatile, more food-friendly and ultimately more satisfying.

These wines are often made from savoury-tasting grapes such as pinot noir, sangiovese, tempranillo, mourvedre. They’re paler in colour than the bold pink Aussie wines of old because the grape juice spends less time in contact with the grape skins - hence, too, the more delicate aromas and finer flavours. The wines that are ringing my bells are often given a little more serious attention in the winery: wild yeast ferment, some time spent in barrel, lees-stirring, etc. And these wines are dry: rather than carrying residual sweetness as so many of the old-fashioned rosés do, they finish with a lip-smacking dryness, making a better match for savoury food - calamari and salads and grilled chook and garlicky lamb chops and fish soup and goats cheese - all sorts of things.

If you want to find out what I’m talking about, try the rosé from any one of the following (in no particular order - they’re all good): Bass Philip, Krinklewood, Ngeringa, Dominique Portet, Hahndorf Hill, Sutton Grange/Fairbank, Spinifex, Farr Rising, Greenstone, La Linea, Mac Forbes, Arrivo, Vinea Marson, Castagna, Innocent Bystander, TarraWarra, Bress, Pizzini, Foster e Rocco, Pike & Joyce, Yalumba Y Series, Pondalowie, SC Pannell, Shobbrook, Chalmers and Scorpo.

Phew. See what I mean? A plethora of wonderful, food-friendly wines. How exciting is that?
Have a glance through this list when you next feel like a glass of something truly delicious to wash down dinner. You’ll thank me. You will.
UPDATE: This article first appeared in The Weekend Australian Magazine, April 3, 2010. Since then I have tasted some stunning 2010 dry rosés, including an oh-so-pale, creamy-textured, fennel-scented pinot noir example from De Bortoli in the Yarra Valley and the exquisite, fragile and flowery Francesca from Krinklewood in the Hunter.

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