Since my last post regarded the value of Cleanskin wines, I thought of adding a few tips to buying Australian Cleanskins (that have worked and saved money for me), for those who want to get into it or have had some bad cleanskins and bad headaches from them. This also can be a general wine buying guide…

This is only a Rough guide with top selling grape varieties in Australia, as there are often many places that can grow a grape well and in different styles, and I haven’t mentioned many varietals or wine blends to try and keep this brief (if any of you winemakers read this and have some positive/negative input, please comment!):

SHIRAZ – McLAREN VALE is Australia’s most famous Wine region for this, giving great fruit, spice and warm well-rounded flavour, and in general, all across SOUTH AUSTRALIA, in particular, BAROSSA and COONAWARRA too (as most commonly produced). MARGARET RIVER (WA) also gives good spicy-style flavour, and HEATHCOTE (VIC) also gives a more black-peppery cooler style palate. — Year: generally try not to go too young, and there’s often plenty of oak and tannin in Shiraz and it needs time to develop and let the flavour develop and/or fruit come forward, without acid overpowering. Try 3+ years old minimum. Can age well.

GSM (Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre, or the other way around depending on which grapes predominate) – BAROSSA – This region is where there are many old vines which produce beautiful flavours in wine… –Year: 3 years minimum, try to age as well.

CABERNET SAUVIGNON (:caberneigh so-vin-yon) – As above with Shiraz in particular South Australia’s Coonawarra, but also MARGARET RIVER seems to get the structure and edge of Cabernet pretty well. CABERNET MERLOT can also be a fantastic blend from these regions (Merlot does well from a few warmer inland regions to blend with other grapes). — Year: Try 3+ years old minimum. Can age well.

MERLOT – YARRA VALLEY or MARGARET RIVER as a straight Merlot, as well as NEW ZEALAND. — Year: 2 or more.

PINOT NOIR (:pee-noh-noarh) – Does really well from Cool Climate areas generally in VIC and NSW – MORNINGTON PENINSULA, GEELONG, and TASMANIA (as well as Orange, Adelaide Hills, Yarra Valley and Great Southern). NEW ZEALAND also produces great Pinot Noir, such as CENTRAL OTAGO (although I get the impression this region is still to grow in sales in Australia). — Year: can be as young as 2 years (eg. 2008 to buy now in 2010), but older is good too.

SAUVIGNON BLANC (:so-vin-yon-blohn) – Growing fast in popularity and plantings in Australia. NEW ZEALAND is most popular in Aussie Sauv Blanc Sales, but Australia do it well too: Yarra Valley, Adelaide Hills, Margaret River, Orange (NSW) and Tasmania. The SAUVIGNON BLANC SEMILLON (SBS or SSB) Wine Blend is excellent from MARGARET RIVER. — Year: Can be as young as 1 year, although I tend to keep it at 2 or 3 years.

CHARDONNAY – NEW ZEALAND, MARGARET RIVER, ORANGE or TUMBARUMBA, as well as Yarra Valley and Coonawarra. — Year: At least 2 years in my opinion, and up to 4 years old in cleanskins. Generally in cleanskins you won’t get old vintages! But every now and then up to 5 years could be available.

PINOT GRIS/GRIGIO – Increasing in Australian popularity – NEW ZEALAND, MORNINGTON PENINSULA (VIC), TASMANIA, or just leave it to the Europeans. — Year: 2 or more.

RIESLING – Usually ‘dry’ style on taste – CLAIRE OR EDEN VALLEY of South Australia, as well as TASMANIA or BAROSSA, or Western Australia. — Year: 1+ year old.

SEMILLON (:semi-yon) – Warm, peachy character – BAROSSA VALLEY (luscious flavour), HUNTER VALLEY (more ‘lean’ in flavour but great with age), MARGARET RIVER (flavour between Barossa and Hunter Valley). — Year: 2+ years, can also age well if you grab a good one.

DESSERT/FORTIFIED WINE – RUTHERGLEN region produces Excellent TOKAY and MUSCAT! BOTRYTIS SEMILLON and other dessert wines are produced pretty well in almost any winemaking region. Tawny Port (acquired taste) produced really well in Barossa (Such as Seppelt), although these are not often sold in a cleanskin. — Year: Any. Can age well too.


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