First Loves, Restraint and Business as Usual


The first cool album I ever bought on my own was Men at Work’s 1981 classic Business as Usual. And when you talk about Australia, you can’t help but to think of Men at Work right after Crocodile Dundee, High-Octane Wines and Kangaroos. So it is fitting that my first wine and music blog be about Australian wines, none of which had any hint of Vegemite on the nose!
So cue up your turn-table and set it 33 or 45 my childhood friends, and let’s talk about some incredible wines.
I was recently invited to a “Wines of Victoria” event sponsored by the Victoria region in Australia, and was schooled in the rich history wine making in that area, and learned that it lines up in terms of distance to the equator pretty much the same as wine growing regions like Sonoma and some of the top wine producing regions of Portugal and Spain.

It was clear that the Wines of Victoria people had one message to preach, and that was restraint. They are trying to build on the commercial success of entry point tannin-bombed reds that are consistently top movers across North America and the UK. Restraint is their answer to getting folks with more refined tastes and bigger budgets to leave the liquor store with premium Aussie vino. They never came out and said so much, but it sounds to me like they wondering if they are perhaps victims of their own success. So, to show their feminine side, they trotted out a range of Whites and Reds that show restraint, and sell for to those who have unrestrained budgets – and brought a good mix of lady and gentlemen winemakers along.

Shed light on your more restrained wine production? Pour Me. Whoops, I meant to say “Poor Me”

Some of these regions may not be familiar to you, and I think therein lies a big challenge for Australia in that they have such a wide geographical/terroir offering it is hard for anybody less than a pro sommelier to keep up to date.

First wines to be trotted out were seven whites, 2 Chardonnays from the Yarra Valley and three more of the tried and true grape from Sunbury, Pyrenees and the Strathbogie Ranges. We were eased into an interesting sweeter grape called the Marsanne with a knock-out blend of Chardonnay and Marsanne by Pfeiffer Carlyle and a pure Marsanne by Tahblik from the Nagambie Lakes. (See below for all details)

The Yarra Valley wines were more of what I would expect from Australian Chards, with just a little restraint. Some toasted barrel in one, some wild ferment on French oak in the other. The other regions were much more restrained citrus to Chablis style with my favourite being the Plunkett Fowles Stone Dwellers Chardonnay 2005 Strathbogie Ranges)

The Marsanne’s were my revelation, but being a bit restrained myself I preferred the 2009 Chardonnay blend. Beautiful fruit young fruit on the nose and very dry in the mouth. The wine maker, Chris Pfeiffer beamed that this product never came into contact with oak. If you are serving oysters as an appetizer and want to offer you guests a great matching wine that will leave them with a clean pallet for the main course, get a case of this stuff.

Perfect Music mix for the Pfeiffer Carlyle blend: Some light Austrian classical music (the other Aussies), maybe even an operetta as this wine definitely has some Viennese qualities. Johann Strauss: Wo die Citronen blühn op. 364.

Stay tuned for my next posts on the Pinot Noirs and Cabernet Sauvignons:

Wines Tasted:

Wedgetail Estate 2008 Chardonnay – Yarra Valley , Victoria (Nice light toasted taste, nice nose, nice wine)

Kooyong 2007 Chardonnay – Mornington Peninsula, Victoria (Tastes like the wine maker knows what he is doing with wild fermentation – or is that just natural effect? good job)
Galli Estate 2008 Camelback Chardonnay – Sunbury, Victoria (More citrus than I prefer, but restranined citrus!)

Blue Pyrenees 2008 Reserve Chardonnay – Pyrenees, Victoria (Closer to a Chablis style, a taste of slightly unripe apple)

Plunkett Fowles Stone Dwellers Chardonnay 2008, Strathbogie Ranges (Stronger green apple taste, refreshing)

Tahblik 2006 Marsanne – Goulbourn Valley, Victoria (Bergamot on the nose, crisp in the mouth)

Pfeiffer Carlyle Chardonnay Marsanne 2009 (Bouquet of fruit on the nose, surprisingly dry drinking)

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