Landmark – day 1: a regional overview

Today we kicked off with an overview of Australia.  First, Dr Tony Jordan talked us through the wide diversity of climates that comprise Australia’s 61 wine regions.  Bottom line, when it comes to wine regions, “Australia can do hot to warm to cool to cold climate.”  And then on to a tasting led by Michael Hill-Smith of Shaw & Smith to lift it off the page.

As Hill Smith put it, it’s about demonstrating “how site, climate and variey come together to produce something special and worthy in an international sense…[wines that are] compellingly different and exciting.”    Here’s the list of wines to give you a feel for these regional and varietal marriages made in heaven:

2009 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling, Clare Valley
2002 Pewsey Vale The Contours Riesling, Eden Valley
1998 Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon, Hunter Valley
2006 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay, Margaret River
2009 Shaw + Smith M3 Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills
2007 By Farr Sangreal Pinot Noir, Geelong
2007 Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River
2006 Balnaves of Coonawarra The Tally Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
2008 S.C. Pannell Shiraz/Grenache, McLaren Vale
2006 Brokenwood Graveyard Shiraz, Hunter Valley
2007 Mount Langi Ghiran Langi Shiraz, Grampians
2006 Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz, Eden Valley
2007 Glaetzer Amon-Ra Shiraz, Barossa Valley
2007 De Bortoli Noble One Semillon, Riverina

Some great wines here but, it being way past my bedtime, I’m just going to pick out a handful.  As always, terrific to see older vintages of Riesling and Semillon, because the wines deliver so much more bang for buck than in their youth.  The Pewsey Vale The Contours Riesling 2002 showed fabulous intensity, richness and line in this cool vintage, with lemon butter followed by savoury, salted limes and a mineral talc quality to the finish.  Long, intense and utterly lemon butterly delicious!  As for the Tyrrells Vat 1 Semillon 1998, though very toasty on the nose it’s still super tight on the palate, with lime/lemongrass line, textured  grapefruit/lime pith and subtly earthy porcini hints just creeping in.   Similarly fresh, with good line was Tyrrells Vat 47 Chardonnay 1998, which we subsequently tasted over dinner at Chateau Yering (pictured).  Another product of the Hunter Valley’s naturally high tartaric acid levels according to Bruce Tyrrell.

As for cutting edge developments, for Hill Smith, he’s had to review his pigs might fly take on Pinot Noir outside Burgundy.  The pig is flying!  He rates the variety’s performance in Australia as one of the most exciting developments of his wine life thanks to Pinot obssessives like “the John the Bapstist of Oz Pinot,” Gary Farr.  By Farr Sangreal Pinot Noir 2007 really impressed with the freshness behind its dark, spicy fruit and savoury structured tannins.  Quite agree Michael – a world away from the squashy strawberries of old!

You can watch videos of Hill Smith talking about the day’s themes and wines on the Landmark website here and much more besides.

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