2015-02 and -03
Mac has again decided to spend some
quality time in "The Land DownUnder" - a good time of the
Ottawa year to do so - and his travel plans, while in Australia, include
visits to some of the wine growing areas that not all of us have had the
opportunity to appreciate... such as the higher elevations around the
national capital, Canberra. Mac's comments on this area, and
others, are provided below...
CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA (26°C and 78% humidity)
Majura Winery is located on the eastern slopes
of the mountain just a few kilometers north of the Canberra Aeroport
(and the fifth Costco store in Australia).
The soil is a unique
combination of volcanic over limestone. The iron content is so high that
some of the soil pebbles become magnetized.
Canberra district has about 30 wineries and is considered
cool climate with elevations
from 650m to over 700m.
Riesling, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Pinot Noir
among other varieties are grown here. Mt.
Majura is, however, best known for its
Tempranillo. This variety
is definitely on the rise in Australia and prices start at about $25 CDN
BAROSSA VALLEY, South Australia (Very Warm!!!!)
been coming to this Valley for 11 years and it remains my favourite wine
region in Australia. Located 60 km northeast of Adelaide, it shares the
viticulture neighbourhood with the Clare
Valley to the north and
Adelaide Hills and McLaren
Vale to the south.
the grapes that make up Penfolds Grange
(Australia's most famous wine) come from the
Barossa. The total area is about 13km by 14 km. The Valley
was settled by German speaking Silesian religious refugees and British
settlers around 1840.
Shiraz is predominant (with
many old vine vineyards) Reisling
(Eden Valley) and Semillion, Grenache
and Cabernet Sauvignon are
Barossa Harvest 2015
Barossa Valley harvest has
been early this year due to the warm growing season. There was
only one rain event during the latter phase of the ripening process so
flavours seem well developed at this point.
has shown that early usually means good quality... and my
landlord has a Shiraz
vineyard that was harvested on 15 February 2015, the earliest on
record. He sells to small, quality wineries and their vines cropped
at just over one ton per acre. Grape growing may be the sexy side
of farming... but it is still a tough business. The biggest returns this
year will be in the bottle.
generally a good year for Australian wine.
wines I have been tasting on this trip
have been exceptional. Unfortunately,
none of the wines I have tasted will be coming to Canada... but you may
want to check out those that do.
2012's are fast disappearing from local Australian shelves.
2013's are generally rated as "good"... with some high notes but more
SERIOUSLY BIG STORMS
Cyclones, or hurricanes in the Northern Hemisphere, are violent storms
centered by extreme low pressure. They usually form in tropical water
that exceeds 25.5°C
and unleash high winds and heavy rains to areas in its path.
cyclone in the above image is Marcia, a Category 5 (winds more than 280
km/HR ) approaching the North East coast of Queensland on Feb 28 2015.
that time, I was in Noosa Heads on the coast in the lower right hand of
the picture in the blue area just south of the last peninsula that juts
out to sea. After landfall, the Category 5 reduced to 3 and the storm
moved just to the west of Noosa, producing some flooding but sparing the
area wind damage.
few years ago, I was in Darwin in the tropical top-end of Australia.
There were three days of torrential rain (over 500 mm) from a Category 3
cyclone that did not move off. All commercial aircraft had been flown
out of harms way. I bussed over flooded roads to the closest point that
the train service could function. Early the next day I arrived in Alice
Springs, which hadn't had a drop of rain in months.
Each week, one of Australia's newspapers publishes a map of rainfall
distribution over the country for the previous week. Most of the time,
80% of the country receives no rain and for much of the lucky 20%, not
enough. The country as a whole has been going through a "Big Dry" the
last few years with cyclones not penetrating far enough inland so that
traditional dry areas are not receiving even intermittent relief.
What has this got to do with wine? Absolutely nothing... but the
NASA printout (above) was held down by four bottles of Australia 's
finest, one of which you can see at the upper left.
(gum) trees have long been suspected shedding the flavoured oil from
their leaves to adjacent grape vines. The resulting eucalyptus taste in
wines made from these grapes has long been a feature of Cabernets and
Shiraz wine produced in Australia and California. A few years ago the
Australian Wine Research Institute proved that the proximity to
vineyards and prevailing wind conditions contributed to higher levels of
1,8-cineole or eucalyptol oil in wines.
wines are particularly prone to oil tastes because of the long skin
contact during fermentation. White wines are not as affected because
the skins, which harbour almost all of the oil, get discarded prior to
fermentation. The yellow gum (eucalyptus) is the most culpable variety
in Australia for this added essence.
next time you want some eucalyptus, mint or camphor in your wine, add
some gum to your glass.
is not a Latin
dance but is an emerging cool climate grape
growing region in New South Wales, Australia. Located
in the Snowy Mountains, at an average elevation of 2000 feet,
Sauvignon Blanc are the major
varieties grown here for still and sparkling wine production.
McWilliams, a major producer of
warmer climate wines, sources grapes in Tumbarumba… as do other notable
Australia has well
over 4000 wineries and most would conclude, based on market availability
in Canada, that it is a warm or even hot country that produces full
bodied, highly extracted low acid wines.
There are however
significant cool climate areas more akin to Niagara... without the
South Australia, west Western
Australia, elevated areas of New
South Wales and Queensland
qualify as true cool climate wine areas.
Cask Wine or
bag in the box was developed in Australia by Thomas
Angove of Angove's Winery
in 1965 as a means of cheaply packaging inexpensive wines including
There have been many improvements since including the quality of wine
over the years and one in three glasses of wine drunk in
Australia today comes out of a cask.
At BYO restaurants, the locals can really lower their dining out costs
when the cost per bottle is in the range of $2 to $5. For the quality
minded, one can get NZ Marlborough Sauvignon
Blanc for $6 a bottle and Maclaren
Vale Shiraz at $7 a bottle. The latter wine, called
"Cat Amongst The Pigeons Shiraz"
rated by Watson,
pictured here, as scoring 15 doggy points out of 20....
and that was after he knocked a couple of points off because off the
(PS - Mac is now safely home and, like most of us, watching the grape
regions carefully for signs of Harvest 2015 in the northern
in vino veritas,
(scene from a cottage in the Snowy Mountains)
from Australia, late-March, 2015