The big challenge for Australian wine in most export markets, as all Australian exporters agree, is to convince us that there is more to Australian wine than big, carefully segmented but not necessarily at all distinctive brands.
Thus, new companies such as The Boutique Wine Company of Northampton in the UK should be receiving massive export subsidies. This small outfit has hand-picked a range of some of the most interesting Australian wines to have come my way for many a long day and is offering them mail order at perfectly reasonable prices.
I liked their cool and sophisticated Bidgeebong Triangle Chardonnay 2004 Tumbarumba at £10 but didn't want to precipitate a heart attack in my readers by recommending a Chardonnay.
I was also very impressed by the fully mature, round, complex and very gentle O'Shea & Murphy Cabernets 2000 Macedon Ranges at £16. The Wayne Thomas Petit Verdot 2004 McLaren Vale at £19 has an eloquent story to tell too, being the 42nd vintage made by Wayne, who started out at Chateau Reynella in the 1960s and now buys obviously very expressive, energetic fruit from growers of old vines. Then there is the Boston Bay Shiraz 2001 Port Lincoln at £17 from one of only three vineyards in this appellation south of Adelaide which is so elegant I would not have guessed at its 14.5 per cent alcohol, though the gold medal at Adelaide Wine Show doesn't surprise me.
But the wine I have chosen as wine of the week is even more unusual, even if not exactly 100 per cent Australian. Australian College of Wine Pinot Noir 2002 Yarra Valley was made at the government-subsidised Melbourne Technical College by Béatrice Dubois, a young flying winemaker based at Domaine Dubois in Prémeaux-Prissey in the Côtes de Nuits from fruit grown in the nearby Yarra Valley. It certainly tastes more Burgundian than Australian and has a lovely fresh nose with its combination of sweet fruit, slightly leafy, autumnal savour and hint of tobacco colour. Its other distinguishing mark is the slightly alarming bordeaux bottle with its extremely straightforward – hem, hem – label design. But who cares? Perfect for a blind tasting from a wrapped bottle, this one….
By the way, I see that Dubois burgundies are sold online by 3D Wines of Lincolnshire which specialises in allowing customers, or 'partners', to lease rows of vines to make wines expressly for themselves.
Many apologies to those outside the UK and Australia who may experience difficulty in finding these wines. I'll try to choose a more internationally available wine next week.