Award-winning sommelier, owner of Melbourne’s Bar Liberty, and collaborator on projects such as the Wine Gallery and Grow Assembly, Banjo Harris Plane is on the front line of Australian wine. Here he talks current trends and the styles Aussie drinkers are embracing.
Banjo Harris Plane's ultimate Aussie six-pack
1. Sparkling: 2003 Arras EJ Carr Late Disgorged
Ed Carr is a legend of Australian winemaking and our premier exponent of the art of making sparkling wine.
That the prestige cuvee of the House of Arras is named in his honour should say enough.
Exceptional chardonnay and pinot noir, from cool-climate sites, spend 10 years on lees and are released in a riot of butter, nougat, truffle and lime.
This is a wine of many layers and great depth, and a testament to the Apple Isle’s ability to grow outstanding grapes.
RRP $133 | Northern Tasmania | Bay of Fires
2. Skins: 2016 Didi Giallo
Ladies and gentleman, stay calm, this is a not a fad. The art of skin-contact winemaking is here to stay and so it should. An ancient technique, now revitalised for modern wines, it consists of macerating the juice of white grapes on the skins of said grapes – i.e. the same way red wine is made. The results however are amber in colour, rich in texture, and spicy and pungent.
Tom Shobbrook has been making his skin-contact Giallo for six years, adjusting the grape varieties as the seasons dictate. It currently is a blend of semillon, riesling and muscat á petit grains, and spends three weeks on skins. Wildly aromatic and decadently delicious, this is juicy and succulent.
RRP $38 | Barossa Valley | Shobbrook Wines
3. Summer: 2016 Cobaw Ridge il pinko Rosé
Rosé is something Australia should make exceptionally and plentifully. Our climate basically demands it. Full flavoured, dry as the Nullabor and thirst-quenching should be the brief, and yet…
For years we were drowning in a sea of sucrose, a lake of lolly water, and only recently has the approach shifted.
Cobaw Ridge runs a biodynamically certified property high in the Macedon Ranges. Their rosé is made from earlier-picked syrah and undergoes elevage partially in clay qvevre and partially in old oak barrels. This shows the texture imparted by said vessels, but the cool-climate acidity rings true.
RRP $35 | Macedon Ranges | Cobaw Ridge
4. Supple: 2015 Ochota Barrels I am the Owl Syrah
Burgundy has a lot to answer for in Australia. Winemakers across the country drink it and obsess over it. The silken texture and ethereal delicacy that the best pinots from the Cote d’Or possess are often chased and rarely imitated.
The use of whole bunches is hotly debated, but there’s no denying that when it works, it really sings.
Taras Ochota’s 2015 Syrah is thrilling – lavender, black pepper, iris and dark cherry. The whole bunch adds intrigue and depth to seriously good fruit. It swathes the palate in satin, then bites you gently on the finish…like a good lover should.
RRP $40 | Adelaide Hills | Ochota Barrels
5. Serious: 2015 Ruggabellus Timaeus
83% grenache, 7% mataro, 7% cinsault, 3% syrah, 14% whole bunch, 110% delicious. A mathematician I am not, but for me this wine sets the benchmark for what Barossa grenache can and should be. The precise breakdown of varieties on the label shows serious intent and attention to detail, traits Abel Gibson seems to embody. All of his wines show depth and detail without ever sacrificing drinkability.
A wash of sweet musky rose and raspberry, some sweet cinnamon and ginger, and the zip of sour orange on the finish. Fine, powdery tannins entwine with a long acid tail that really carries the flavours. Superb.
RRP $44 | Barossa Valley | Ruggabellus
6. Spectacular: 2014 Giaconda Chardonnay
Here is a wine that regularly sits at the top of the Australian chardonnay tree and has done so for quite some time. Part of the secret lies in the evolution of the style – for the past five years, the wine has become tighter and finer, with electric acidity and more clearly defined grapefruit and Meyer lemon.
Here is a wine that embraces the funk…you can’t stop the funk. Sulphides that draw you back to glass again and again, searching for aromas that only time and air can bring. This clever winemaking is married to exceptional fruit from a special site, and results in complex, cerebral and crystalline wine.
Here is a wine that competes with the best chardonnays in the world and lives to fight another day.
RRP $115 | Beechworth | Giaconda
The Defining Australian Wine series is produced with thanks to our brand partner Winery Lane, an online marketplace designed to unite wine lovers with independent winemakers. Click here to watch Winery Lane’s Stephen Mobbs tackle the topic of what makes an archetypally Aussie wine.
Halliday Wine Companion reviews are 100 per cent independent and recommendations published here reflect the opinions of the original authors. Unless content is labelled 'Sponsored', you can be assured that advertisers have no influence over what is included.