Guest post by Ned Goodwin MW. Ned is a Sydney based sommelier, educator, show judge, consultant, TV wine show host and wine writer.
Australian wine has proven to be extremely versatile and highly adaptable, finding favour internationally across diverse cultures. A plethora of different climates, soil types and other variables ensure that the palette of Australian wine styles is virtually unrivalled.
What finds favour in one culture, however, is often starkly different to the type of wine that is popular in another. Even within a single country, regional taste may differ.
In the United States robust reds such as traditional Shiraz from Barossa or McLaren Vale, find favour throughout middle America. The forceful nature of these wines makes a strong impression at the first sip, while their weight and strong fruit flavours parry well with the meat-driven diet. Conversely, the sommelier cultures of New York and San Francisco, for example, seeks more elegant, cooler climate expressions such as upper Yarra Valley Syrah or Tasmanian Pinot Noir. Among the most desirable wines, too, are those of a minimal interventionist bent. This means a little less oak and extraction of the grapes, as well as fermentations using natural yeast, among other factors.
In Japan, the minimal approach is taken to a giddy extreme! Japan is a culture with more sommeliers per capita than any other on earth, but for Italy. Wine-lovers are obsessed with provenance and with that, the story of place: single plots, vineyards and idiosyncratic winemaking approaches that imbue a wine with a sense of uniqueness. Here, cooler expressions of McLaren Vale Grenache grown on sandy, elevated vineyards; as well as cloudy wines that are unfined, unfiltered and fermented with stems, tell a strong story of contemporary Australian wine and its many shades.