Australia is hot again. And we’re not talking weather. We’re talking heat, as in buzz. We haven’t seen buzz like this since the 90s. Remember the 90s?—flannel shirts and grunge were hot, Yahoo was hot and so were other internet stocks, and for a hot moment in time there was a stained blue dress and what the American president had done to it that was a hot topic. Also hot in the 90s was Australian wine. Everybody who was cool and in the know-how was drinking it because drinking Australian was hot.
Flash forward to present times, and something magical is happening in Hot-stralia. Wines are more diverse, more expressive, more beautiful—just mo’ better than ever. More than a decade later since the last time Australian wine was this hot, something different, something new is happening. Take the 2014 KALLESKE Old Vine Grenache. Beautiful stuff. Rich and concentrated but never jammy. Ripe and robust but gorgeously balanced. Delicious and forward but hardly overpowering. From 85-year-old vines and with a silky, soft texture but subtle complexity that makes the wine both traditional and contemporary, it’s Australian Barossa Valley red wine that’s timelessly classic. From the beautiful perfume of violets and roses on the nose to the bright flavors of red cherry and strawberry, and finishing on a trace of leather, this is very, very pretty Grenache with plenty of character. Kalleske is a family winery that was established in South Australia just over a decade ago, so it’s part of a new wave of wineries finding new forms of expression from the Australian terroir, as well as bringing a fresh set of values and sensibilities—e.g. this wine is certified organic and biodynamic.
After the 90’s decade, we fell under the false impression that an old New World winemaking region like the Barossa was done saying all it had to say. Wine like this tells us it’s not nearly done, not even close. It may just be the beginning of something else entirely. –J.M.
Great Wine: Christian Moreau Chablis