Top 10 Wines for the Cooler Weather
Panel member, Adam Walls, has put together his top 10 winter-friendly wine varieties to make your seasonal transition a breeze. It includes Australian classics, like Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, through to some surprising new inclusions, such as Grüner Veltliner, Roussanne and Montepulciano. Get-set, the countdown starts…now!
Viognier is distinctive, powerful and intense. Full of ripe apricot and peach fruit with notes of musk and ginger, this French grape variety is one of the easiest to recognise. It seems to envelop you in a cloud of heady aromas and continues on with an intense flavour core. It is creamy and soft with a relatively high alcohol level of above 13%, which increases the slippery and seductive texture of the wine. Given its power – both aromatically and flavour wise – Viognier is a wine that not only delivers enough flavour to enjoy on its own, it is also perfect with the rich, creamy and warming dishes we crave during the colder months.
Great example: Yalumba The Virgilius Viognier 2010
Perfect with: Pad Thai noodles, roast chicken, tagines and pumpkin dishes.
Adam says: “Heady, intense and full-bodied, Viognier is a wine for those who love flavour in their whites. Savour it by itself or serve with rich and creamy foods.”
Grüner is ‘the’ white grape of Austria and is full of citrus fruit flavours, including lime, grapefruit and lemon, and has a signature herbaceous note commonly noted as green pepper. These characteristics have led to comparisons with both Riesling (lime fruit) and Sauvignon Blanc (herbaceous notes). Grüner’s electric backbone of acidity gives the wines real energy and vibrancy, and it is true that Grüner is perfect to enjoy in warmer weather. However, one of the unique things about the variety is that is comes in many different spectrums; Grüner can be light-bodied and fresh to full-bodied, creamy and intense. It is the perfect variety to enjoy over lunch in the winter sun, or as a pre-dinner drink. Richer styles of Grüner are perfect for creamy of deep fried foods too – really the options are endless.
Great example: Tomich Grüner Veltliner 2017
Perfect with: Dumplings, yum cha or Thai dishes, even deep fried pork or chicken schnitzel!
Adam says: “Grüner is set to flourish in Australia’s café culture because it is so deliciously versatile. It’s just so easy to enjoy and fits a wide scope of foods and occasions.”
It’s fair to say that Roussanne is a little-known variety, certainly to those outside the world of wine, but every wine lover should seek it out! It hails from France’s Rhône Valley, the same place as Shiraz and Viognier, and while it is loved for its flavour it is both revered and despised by the grape growers of the Rhône. The mixed appeal of Roussanne is because it can be extremely hard for winemakers to get right, yet can be utterly superb when they do. Stone fruits, such as peach and apricot, are the variety’s signature characters along with notes of herbal tea leaves. Roussanne wines are typically intense in flavour and can be oily in texture. However, the best wines showcase an elegance and purity that belies the fruit intensity. This balance ensures you get enough flavour to ward off any winter chills.
Great example: Dandelion Vineyards Honeypot of the Barossa Roussanne 2018
Perfect with: Roussanne works fabulously with shellfish, salmon, turkey or roast chicken. Also, it is very good with polenta and other corn-based dishes.
Adam says: “You may not be familiar with Roussanne, but tracking some down will be worth your while. Its perfume, fruit intensity and elegance will have you immediately smitten.”
A glass of Gewürztraminer is hard to mistake, powerful is an understatement. Its aromatic presence is dominated by notes of lychee, musk, and Turkish delight, as well as its signature spices of ginger and cinnamon from which its name is derived – Gewürz means 'spicy' in German. It’s also a full-bodied and rich wine to boot. Lychee and rose water notes dominate with hints of stone fruit and lots of spice. The wines are generally high in alcohol, which gives them an oily texture, as well as a perceived sweetness. It is this combination of powerful flavours, a smooth, almost oily texture, and a lower acidity that makes Gewürztraminer such a mouthful on its own. In fact, you could spend many an hour getting lost in the wine itself without needing food.
Great example: Delatite Deadman’s Hill Gewürztraminer 2017
Perfect with: Washed rind or stinky cheese will give you a classic Alsace experience. For an Asian twist match with spicy noodles or laksa. Sweet and sour dishes are also a hit.
Adam says: “It’s a shame that more Gewürztraminer is not enjoyed as it is such a delicious wine. Treat yourself this winter to a bowl of spicy laksa and a big glass of Gewürztraminer. You will thank me for it.”
Known as Durif here in Australia and as Petite Syrah in both North and South America, its original name, Petite, refers to the small and deeply coloured berries that make Durif such a distinctive variety. Durif isn’t widely grown in Australia, but the two key regions of Rutherglen and the Riverina produce fabulous examples. Due to the small and deeply coloured berries, the wines produced are rich in colour, aroma, are full of fruit power, and can resemble a Shiraz on steroids – fruit and tannin dialled up to 11! If ever a variety was created with winter warmth in mind then it would be Durif. It has the muscle to match deeply flavoured dishes, including anything with a barbeque flame and smoke lick.
Great example: Campbells Limited Release Durif 2015
Perfect with: Barbeque or slow-cooked red meat dishes, mushrooms and roasted root vegetables.
Adam says: “Durif is unashamedly a rich and intense wine; saturated with pure black and purple fruit flavour, it’s the perfect wine when you need comfort against the elements.”
Malbec has been planted in Australia for many years and is French in origin – southwest France to be precise – but it has built a world-renowned reputation for being ‘the’ red grape of Argentina. In Australia, if you haven’t enjoyed a Malbec on its own, you may have still consumed it unknowingly, as the vast majority are blended into Cabernet Sauvignon based wines. But it’s the success of the Argentine Malbec that has inspired our winemakers to explore what Australian Malbec is all about, with glorious results. Malbec is noted for its deeper colour, an intense aroma and a fruit rich palate. These characters make it appealing to any lover of richer reds, such as Shiraz and/or Cabernet wines, and as the Argentines know too well, Malbec is perfect with red meat.
Great example: Ferngrove King Malbec 2017
Perfect with: Beef or lamb are the classic matches, but try with any dish that has roasted root vegetable or olives.
Adam says: “Malbec wines are so easy to enjoy. Their great colour, perfumed aromas and intense fruit flavours leave you wanting nothing more!”
Without a doubt this is Australia’s favourite variety; we love the colour of Shiraz, we love the spice and fruit weight of Shiraz, and it’s many Australians go-to wine throughout the entire year. Plus, it really comes into its own over the cooler months. Its fruit weight keeps us warm, while its spice provides comfort. The vast array of styles means you can enjoy a medium bodied Shiraz with your lunch and then open a richer style with your dinner, or simply snuggle up on the lounge to savour your favourite glass of Shiraz while you relax.
Great example: Schwarz Wine Co Shiraz 2015
Perfect with: Shiraz is so versatile; barbeque foods sure, but don’t stop there, beetroot, mushrooms, lightly-spiced curries all work. As does dark chocolate.
Adam says: “Shiraz and cool weather are the perfect fusion; Shiraz’s body and fruit intensity help buffer the elements, guaranteeing comfort and enjoyment.”
Touted by many as ‘regal’ or the King of red grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon, with its blackcurrant fruit flavour and mouth-hugging tannins, guarantees warmth and satisfaction to cooler weather wine drinkers. Cabernet’s signature characteristics are concentrated black, purple and red fruits, supported by a backbone of strong tannins, which adds extra weight and muscle. Drinking a glass of Cab Sauv is the wine equivalent of pulling on a woollen vest, to ward off the cool and usher in an unsurpassed level of cosiness.
Great example: Penley Estate Pheonix Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Perfect with: A classic match is lamb – roasted, barbequed, slow-cooked – it’s all great. In addition, try Cabernet with vegetable caponata or lentils.
Adam says: “Use Cabernet as your weapon of choice when it comes to winter warmth. Its fruit intensity and lick of tannin will ensure you forget that its even cold outside.”
You may not have tried a Montepulciano, or Monte as its affectionately known, but I am telling you, you need to! After just a few sips this may become your new favourite red variety. The grape hails from the central part of Italy (Abruzzo) and produces wines full of colour and vibrant fruit flavours. Imagine sitting in the town square of an Italian village eating pizza or pasta – a Monte should definitely be in your glass! For the cooler months, Monte is the perfect wine to open on a night when takeaway pizza is the best option, or pour yourself a glass when all you need is a good wine and a simple antipasto platter to make your evening complete.
Great example: Mr. Riggs Montepulciano 2016
Perfect with: Anything Italian inspired – pizza, pasta, arancini, and antipasto.
Adam says: “For lovers of Shiraz, Monte is a must try. Its joy lies in the fact that it’s so easy to drink. Fleshy and full of flavour, it’s a wine that you don’t have to think about.”
This style of wine is one of only two Australian fortifieds that no one else in the world can replicate; Liqueur Muscat is a sweet, rich and luxurious wine. The extra weight of this wine and the gentle warmth make this a no brainer when it comes to battling the cooler elements. Full of dried fruits, sweet spice, caramel and grilled nut notes – this is the perfect wine to kick-back with to enjoy some relaxation. As it’s one of the most delicious and unique styles of wines you’ll find anywhere in the world, enjoy it with your phone off, your feet up, and with plenty of ‘me’ time.
Great example: Morris 500ml Classic Liqueur Muscat NV
Perfect with: By itself Liqueur Muscat is utterly perfect, but it is also amazing with chocolate, caramel or fudge. Blue cheese also works a treat.
Adam says: “As life continues to get more hectic and rushed, it’s important to take some time out to yourself. This wine provides the perfect accompaniment to your ‘me’ time.”
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