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 More Antipodes
An importer's visit prompts yet another Australian tasting report, with notes on this stellar cluster of seven Down Under beauties.
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This article was published in The 30 Second Wine Advisor on Friday, Oct. 19, 2007 and can be found at

More Antipodes

I hadn't anticipated turning this into an all-Australian week on the 30 Second Wine Advisor ranch, but when the hits just keep coming, it makes sense to go with the flow.

And so it was for me this week, when the tasty Australians that I picked off the shelf for Monday's and Wednesday's editions were followed coincidentally by an unexpected visit from an Australian-wine importer who came to town bearing a stellar cluster of beauties from the Antipodes.

(That's a great word, by the way, pronounced "an-TIP-uh-deez," from the Greek words meaning, loosely, "where people's feet point in the opposite direction," or "the other side of the earth.")

With thanks to visiting Rebecca Loewy, with the excellent, Napa-based import firm Old Bridge Cellars, we tasted through a half-dozen Australian wines (and one New Zealand goodie) and found them consistently well-matched to Pacific Rim "fusion" dishes at a fine local restaurant, Asiatique.

In the context of our recent explorations of Australian wines that fall outside the stereotypical "blockbuster" category, I was particularly impressed with Old Bridge's consistent commitment to Oz producers who focus on delicacy and regional expression in their wines, not merely monolithic fruit.

With the usual caveat that these wines weren't rated analytically but tasted in a sociable, restaurant setting with food, here are my brief notes on seven worthy items from the Antipodes.

Mak 2005 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
The one New Zealand selection of the evening, this outstanding item re-awakened taste buds that have been tiring a bit of the growing sameness of so many Kiwi Sauvignon Blancs. This one's outstanding, with layered aromas and textured flavors of gooseberry and passionfruit held up by good body and crisp acidity.

Leeuwin 2003 Art Series Margaret River Western Australia Chardonnay
Pale gold. Apples and chestnuts and nicely integrated oak, drinking at its peak. Not just one of the best Australian Chardonnays I've enjoyed recently, but one of the best Chardonnays. Amazing match with Asiatique's pan-seared baby squid stuffed with shrimp mousse with a sweet-chile basil sauce.

D'Arenberg 2006 "The Laughing Magpie" McLaren Vale Shiraz Viognier
Another in the growing niche of Shiraz co-fermented with a small amount of white Viognier (see Wednesday's Wine Advisor), the splash of white adds a distinct "lifted" floral note that brings complexity and flavor interest to the Shiraz's fresh berry fruit.

Mak 2002 Clare Valley Shiraz
Blackberries and plums, not overwrought: A really excellent and nicely balanced cool-climate Shiraz.

John Duval Wines 2005 Barossa Valley "Plexus" Syrah-Grenache-Mourvedre
Well structured, cherry-berry and fresh acidity. An excellent Rhone-style red from Australia, with plenty of New World fruit but unusual clarity and transparency that provide real elegance.

John Duval Wines 2005 Barossa Valley "Entity" Shiraz
Blackberry and a whiff of eucalyptus. Full, forward, more typical Barossa Shiraz, but good acidic structure elevates it well above the pack.

Chambers Rosewood Vineyards Rutherglen Liqueur Muscat
This memorable fortified dessert wine is a clear amber-bronze in color. Perfumed golden raisins on the nose and palate, unctuous and warm; toothache sweet, nicely shaped by fresh acidity.

Unusual among importers, Old Bridge offers online sales and shipping to individuals in the U.S. where the law allows. To review and order specific wines, go to the home page,
then click any winery name in the left-hand column. This will take you to that winery's information page, where you can click "BUY ONLINE" near the upper right to go to the ordering page.

To find other online vendors for these or any wines, fill in the online database form at

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