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Posted: Friday, 24 August 2018 17:35

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Tasting Wines from Australian Victoria in India

Aug 24: In a bid to promote wines from Victoria, the Australian High Commission and Austrade organised last Friday a Masterclass and Tasting of 8 wines from 3 producers-De Bortoli (already represented in India by Prestige Wines), Brown Bros. and Montara Wines last Friday, for which Michelle Wade, Commissioner from the State Govt of Victoria had come from Melbourne along with a Montara producer, writes Subhash Arora who was equally impressed with the snacks served and the warm hospitality of the officials

The ever smiling Head of Austrade Leonie Muldoon, the tall Trade Commissioner of Austrade Mark Morley, Victorian and the never-aging Harsh Mohan Puri, Business Development Manager were also present to lend support to Sommelier Magandeep Singh who presented the Masterclass on Victorian Wines to about 30 people. Michelle Wade, Commissioner, Government of Victoria had come from Melbourne to meet the stakeholders in Delhi and Mumbai.

Victoria is one of the six Federal states in Australia-the others being New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia in the mainland and Tasmania, an island 200 kms south of Victoria. In addition there are ten Federal Territories (like in India).  Although it is the second smallest Aussie State in terms of area (second highest in terms of population and the most dense State), it is known to have produced over half of the Aussie wines in the 1890’s prior to being hit by phylloxera. It took almost 60 years after the epidemic for it to revive.

Victoria has over 600 wineries and more producers than any other State but the production makes it rank at no. 3 since it has no bulk producers like in South Australia or New South Wales. It’s known for   more elegant red wines than the robust styles of South Australia, although the style ranges from lighter and elegant Pinot Noirs to medium-full bodied Shiraz and Cabernets. The state has a varied climate ranging from semi-arid in the North-West to cool & temperate near the coast.

Since 1990’s the Geographic Indications came in existence Australia, known as Zones, Regions and Sub-regions. Victoria has been divided into Central Victoria, North East Victoria, North West Victoria, Western Victoria, Port Phillip and Gippsland. Port Phillip includes a cluster of 5 regions around Melbourne, the Capital of the State.  

 The most well known vineyard regions of Victoria are Yarra Valley (where first vineyards were planted in Victoria) and Mornington Peninsula (Port Phillip) where an Indo-Australian couple own a winery called Nazaaray, Heathcote, Rutherglen, Pyrenees, Geelong, Macedon Ranges, Bendigo, King

Valley (where Australian Prosecco is made)- Murray-Darling and Grampians. Interestingly reference is generally made to the Regions and not the State, at least in the Indian market. For instance, Domaine Chandon is located in Yarra Valley. De Bortoli, the 4th generation of winemakers with heritage from Italy and imported by Prestige Wines in India has wineries in Yarra Valley, Heathcote and King Valley, besides regions in other States.

The following 8 wines were tasted this evening:

1.De Bortoli Pinot Grigio 2016
2.Brown Brothers Chardonnay 2014
3.Montara Riesling 2016
4.Brown Brothers Tarrango Rose 2014
5.Montara Homeblock Estate Cabernet-Merlot 2014
6.Brown Brothers Cabernet Sauvignon 2012/2013
7.Montara Homeblock Estate Shiraz 2016
8.De Bortoli Woodfired Shiraz 2016

The wines were all entry to a couple of notches higher- affordable for the quality as they were vfm wines. Barring the Tarrango that did not excite my palate, all the others had an interesting character and were delicious. Of particular interest to me were the Montara Riesling  and De Bortoli Woodfired Shiraz 2016-  the most balanced red, with a long finish and was the wine to savour. Montara Riesling was very fresh, youthful with a shade of citrus and pineapple and had a great mouthfeel and juicy end.

A word about the Australian hospitality and excellent snacks served with wines. It’s always a pleasure to attend tastings at the High Commission-which have reduced in number over the years; the food is always excellent and the Australia being on the East of India seems exudes warmth and hospitality. With the recent increase in the label registration to Rs. 50,000 a month, it won’t be easy to get importers excited on new labels but the Victorian wines deserve a chance to be presence.

Subhash Arora


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