Rosé in this country had to shed considerable baggage to get where it is today, transforming from sickly sweet hot-pink affairs to prettily pale wines that stress bright fruit flavours and savoury dryness coupled with texture. Spinifex played a vital role in that renaissance, and it continues to lead the field. A riot of wild red berries accented with earthy complexity, this is at once bright, juicy and forward while having gently earthy mineral notes, textural across the palate but decidedly dry.
A peachy pink, this is vibrantly fruitful, with a wash of red-berried fruit, wild raspberries, white strawberries and redcurrants, with watermelon rind and orange oil, some dusty mineral notes adding a gentle earthy complexing quality. The palate follows that theme, with super-bright fruits that never drift into confection, a burr of grape tannin pairing up with the acid to give maximum refreshment value though the dry, mineral finish.
Themes of this wine
From its spiritual home in Provence, in southern France, rosé can be both democratically affordable and dizzyingly expensive, but it rarely slips into the sordid or gets hung up on being too serious. It maintains a broad welcoming smile. It says, drink me. It says, relax, have fun. Those bottles of rosy-tinged sunshine have been exported to all corners of the globe in their legion, and they have found their mark, fashioning the expectations of drinkers and shaping the decisions of winemakers. Today, Australian rosé has grown up, with wines that can both be deliciously frivolous, built for sunshine and good times, as well as having a more serious side, emphasising detail and nuance, and made to pair with food.
The great grape of the Southern Rhône, grenache, has also found many homes around the world, from Spain, to Italy, to California, while Australia is home to the world’s oldest productive grenache vines, planted in 1948. Today, a renaissance is seeing the grape championed, with makers in McLaren Vale arguably turning out the most compelling examples.
Mourvèdre – or Mataro if you’re from South Australia – is a grape that is typically blended, usually with grenache and shiraz. Bottled solo, it often makes dark-fruited wines with gruffly earthy/herbal notes and plenty of tannin, but it makes some of the world’s best rosés, too.
Shiraz dominates the Australian wine industry, accounting for nearly a third of this country’s vines. The grape’s traditional home is in France’s Northern Rhône, with wines that combine elegance and power, while Australia is perhaps best known for the muscular styles from warmer areas. Today, drinkers of Australian shiraz are spoilt for choice with expressions ranging from the elegant and spicy to the monumental.
Cinsault has been grown in Australia since pioneering days, but it has typically been swallowed by blends. However, its ability to shrug off hot and dry conditions and still make elegant wines with plenty of acidity is seeing its star rise in warmer zones like the Barossa Valley. Fragrant and quite pretty, cinsault can have very lifted aromas of red berry fruits, like raspberry, strawberry and cherry, while some blue floral notes, like violet also typically feature. It rarely achieves much more than midweight, with gentle tannins and decent acidity.
The Barossa is arguably Australia’s most revered wine region. It dwarfs many other fine wine regions for scale, while firmly maintaining a quality profile, with its distinctive style and character recognised worldwide. It is dripping in history, has far and away the largest resource of old and ancient vines in the country, and fifth- and sixth-generation growers and makers proliferate. It is fair to call it the cornerstone of Australian wine. It is the home of powerful red wines, established names making established styles, but there are also makers finding new meaning in the territory.