By Tom Hollings
Tom is the owner of innovative online wine store, DifferentDrop.com, which sources and sells unique and small production wines from Australia’s best boutique wineries.
The nights are long, the slippers are out and the footy is back on the TV: winter is surely coming. While our clothing and social habits change with the cooler weather, so too do the wines we drink. The rose and sauvignon blanc sales tend to slow to a trickle, with heavy reds well and truly back on the menu.
While we all know about good old, heart-warming shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, here are three alternative (but delicious) styles and varieties of red to recommend to your customers (or enjoy yourself) this Winter.
Argentinian malbec has captured the world’s imagination with its dark, dense and intensely flavoured reds. These wines are definitely on the heavier end of the spectrum and are perfectly matched to cool nights and rich red meat based dishes. The Argentinian versions from Mendoza are the most acclaimed, but local examples from Margaret River, Langhorne Creek, Clare Valley and Frankland River are getting better and better each year.
The wines of Spain (and Portugal for that matter) are becoming more sought after by Australian wine drinkers, with their character, approachability and ability to pair with food. Like much of Europe these wines are often best when blended with other locally grown varieties, and include tempranillo, garnacha (grenache), monastrell (mourvedre), graciano, mazuelo (carignan) and touriga nacional. When dealing with imports look to wines from Rioja, Priorat and Ribera del Duero, while McLaren Vale and Heathcote are leading the charge here in Australia.
The Right Bank
Cabernet sauvignon and merlot blends, inspired by the ‘Left Bank’ wines of Bordeaux in France, have become one of Australia’s wine staples. The better examples are far from cheap however and the wines tend to require bottle age to show their best. While these wines are losing popularity, the ‘Right Bank’ style of Bordeaux blend, where Merlot and Cabernet Franc play a larger role, are proving an excellent alternative. These wines are often more approachable, fruit-driven and often cheaper!