Saying 'G’Day' to Some Fine Australian Wines

Saying 'G’Day' to Some Fine Australian Wines



Some weeks ago, our Southern California Wine Council greeted 2022 with a tasting of five wines from the Land Down Under which are exported to the United States.  Four of these wines are produced by Eight at the Gate in the Wrattonbully wine country located along the country's southeastern coast, about 280 miles from Melbourne and stretching throughout the hill country of the Stewarts and Naracoorte mountain ranges.  This area has a temperate climate, long growing season, and significant diurnal range (difference between day and night temperatures) which produces balanced, aromatic, and well-structured wines.  The grapes also benefit from Wrattonbully’s well-draining, fertile terra rossa (Italian for red soil), formed from millions of years of built-up limestone reefs. Eight at the Gate is owned by Claire Davies and Jane Richards, sisters who grew up on a local farm, Tpurchased the vineyard in 2002, and were producing their own wine by 2005.  The sisters each have four children and the charming name on the wine label was suggested by a friend because their eight children were always hanging around at the gate.

Our fifth wine was from Woodlands, in the forested Margaret River region in the Wilyabrup Valley along western Australia’s southwestern coast. This valley is known for its premium wine production, especially Cabernet Sauvignon; its soils consists of gravel and laterite, rich in aluminum and iron, and warm, dry summers and cool marine breezes provide the ideal ripening environment for the grapes. With its moderate temperature ranges, this valley's climate has often been compared to the Bordeaux region of France. Woodlands, founded in 1973 by David and Heather Watson, was one of the first vineyards planted in Margaret River, and today sons Stuart and Andrew carry on the family’s mission of producing fine Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc.

10049348256?profile=RESIZE_584xEight at the Gate Single Vineyard Chardonnay, Wrattonbully 2018

This bright, zesty wine is pale straw in the glass, with aromas of citrus and peach.  A fresh acidity along with ripe stone fruit and lemon flavors hit the palate, and the finish is dry, with hints of oak and minerality. It was paired with a grilled Gruyère-and-white-cheddar-cheese sandwich - an excellent pairing as the Chardonnay's acidity cut though the richness of the cheese and enhanced its citrus flavors.


10049348278?profile=RESIZE_180x180Eight at the Gate Family Selection Chardonnay, Wrattonbully 2019 ($35)

2019 was a kind year for this wine, with substantial rainfall in the winter and mild, dry weather in the early spring.  In the glass the wine is a medium straw, with a nose of orange blossoms and stone fruit.  Aged in seasoned French oak for 12 months, this is an elegant wine with soft toasty oak and citrus on the palate.  I paired this wine with the equally elegant Australian dessert pavlova, with lemon curd, blueberries, and blackberries, the tartness of which was well-matched by this bright, acidic wine.


10049349474?profile=RESIZE_584xEight at the Gate Cabernet Shiraz, Wrattonbully 2016 ($28)

Aged 24 months in oak, this bold blend is 59-percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 41-percent Shiraz.  Dark fruit (cherries, currants) on the nose, rich berry jam and a touch of chocolate on the palate, with sophisticated tannins and hints of spice lingering on the finish. The fusion of the two varietals was matched by pairing it with the fusion of BBQ pulled-pork tamales, which stands up quite nicely to the wine’s intensity. 


10049354664?profile=RESIZE_180x180Eight at the Gate Family Selection Shiraz, Wrattonbully 2016

Aromas of vanilla bean, baking spices, and ripe berry greet the nose. This full-bodied, highly structured wine has rich, luscious flavors of wild blackberries, black pepper, and velvety tannins. A delightful and fun pairing consisted of two kinds of popcorn - one cheddar and the other chocolate - which surprisingly amplified the wine-tasting experience.


 10049355085?profile=RESIZE_584xWoodlands “Clementine” Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Malbec Blend, Margaret River 2017 ($36)

Named for owners David and Heather Watson’s granddaughter Clementine, this is a delightful Bordeaux blend, deep purple in the glass, with black cherry, cassis, and cloves on the nose. Bright intensity, structured tannins, and flavors of wild raspberry and dried cranberries and hints of tobacco and spice greet the palate. The hearty and spicy lamb stew pairing was an ideal match for this full-bodied and complex wine.