No, not the restaurant. The real Outback consists of the western third of the country of Australia. The population—and most importantly, the grape growing, and winemaking in this region—is concentrated in the southwest corner. The main city is Perth.
This weekend, City Vino’s travels take us to the Outback, and start in an area called Frankland. Frankland is a small town in Western Australia, about 115 miles east of Margaret River, and 185 miles southwest of Perth. It is located in the shire of Cranbrook. Shire in Australia? Who knew! In the words of Bilbo Baggins, from “The Hobbit,” “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” I don’t know about you but I personally value food and “cheer” well above my gold.
Let’s get back to that Frankland “cheer.” Frankland is planted to just under 4,000 acres of vines, and is home to some of the oldest vines in Western Australia. The region is named after the river that divides it, that provides great alluvial soils for grape growing. The 2021 Alkoomi Rosé hails from this region and is comprised of 52 percent Merlot, 25 percent Petit Verdot, 12 percent Shiraz, 6 percent Viognier, and 5 percent Grenache.
The Alkoomi vineyards are a third-generation estate. The winery name was coined by grandmother Netta from an Aboriginal term meaning “a place we chose.” This rosé we chose to present to you is a very pale rosé color, not unlike the soft colors of a ballerina’s toe shoes. Wafting from the glass, you may find aromatics of freshly picked berries, cherries, herbs, and a tiny bit of white pepper. The palate brings flavors of wild strawberries and pomegranate. This rosé would pair well with foods featuring Mediterranean or North African spice. Heavier seafood, merguez sausages, meat pies, curries, and spanakopita would sing with this wine.
Next, we venture 115 miles west, over to the coast to the Margaret River region, which is known around the world for producing top quality wines that seem more “European” than their counterparts across Australia. The region is especially known for its Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. We will present one of each for your tasting enjoyment. Chardonnays from this region have distinctive super ripe fruit notes from the influence of being on the coast, and the 2020 Grace Town Chardonnay is no exception. The nose of this wine yields ripe citrus, toasted almonds, and nougat. The palate is complex with ripe nectarine, melon, fresh grapefruit, and gingerbread spice.
The Grace Town Chardonnay has gone through partial malolactic fermentation, giving it weight and texture, and was aged in oak, giving it those toasty and baking spice notes. Rich wines like this make great dinner companions alongside dishes with creamy sauces, soups and chowders, and rich cheeses.
Besides world-class Chardonnay, Margaret River is also known for producing excellent Cabernet Sauvignon. The maritime influence here provides drying breezes, which prevent disease challenges, and the Mediterranean climate provides warmth for a long, dry growing season. This combination makes for softer and riper tannins.
We bring you the 2020 Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon from Margaret Valley. This is a medium-bodied wine, with ripe berries, pomegranate, and cherries, along with violets, dark chocolate, earth, and oak driven flavors of baking spice and toast. A red-meat-friendly wine, this will also pair well with aged cheddars, blue cheeses, and smoke gouda.
Technically not part of the official Outback region, the Barossa Valley near the city of Adelaide is one of the most well-recognized wine regions in Australia. The Barossa Valley is in the western part of Barossa and represents the warmer valley floor. Shiraz/Syrah is the most planted grape in this region, and the Barossa Valley is notable for its intense, powerful and expressive wines from this variety.
Our Barossa Valley wine is the 2018 Rubus Shiraz which is 98 percent Shiraz and 2 percent Viognier. Traditionally in the Rhone in France, a little bit of Viognier is allowed to be co-fermented with Syrah as it adds a bit of lift to the wine and helps the wine to better retain its pigment as it ages. This tradition is copied at Rubus. This Shiraz is inky dark in color, with rich aromas of blackberries, black plums, black cherries, eucalyptus, and violets. The palate shows big gold tannins, matched by the intensity of the flavors and the acidity. This is a full-bodied wine featuring classic Shiraz flavors of blueberry and black pepper, together with dark cocoa, leather, licorice, and dried herbs. Pair this wine with game meats, roast duck, steak, or lamb shanks.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our jaunt to Australia. And we’ll end with this ditty “Do I want wine this weekend? You bet Shiraz I do.” Ba Boom Cha.