I have always believed that Australian red wines cannot last more than 20 years in the bottle. But after attending a superb tasting in Hong Kong a few weeks ago, I realise that the best Australian wines can last as long as any of the greatest wines from around the world.
Over the last year, Wine Australia, the Australian body responsible for marketing and promoting Australian wine internationally has been working fervently to showcase a concept they call A+ (A-plus) Wine. A+ Australian Wine, having recently become popular in Asia and the UK, seeks to change the publics perception of Australian wine. This has become necessary because of critter brands a result of a glut or over-supply of wine in Australia.
With companies pumping millions of litres of this low quality wine into major wine markets, this style of wine and Australian wine as a whole became associated with one another. Wine buyers suddenly did not want to pay top dollar for Australian wine; they did not see the value in it thanks to the critter brands. And the A+ initiative is doing wonders to change this situation.
One of their initiatives is a series of tastings held around the world showcasing the best Australian wines. They aim to debunk the myth of all Australian wine being full-bodied, ripe, jammy and alcoholic.
The epitome of their efforts is a week-long residency in Australia where 12 wine professionals from around the world are tutored through the greatest (and oldest) Australian wines. The Landmark Tutorial, as it is known, has become quite an aspiration for wine writers, sommeliers and other professionals.
A mini-version of this tutorial was held in Hong Kong as part of the Hong Kong International Wine Fair. In the same way good Bordeaux becomes softer, more complex and perfumed over time, the best Australian wines loosen up and can taste really much better integrated over time. The 12 wines I tasted were between five and 14 years old and are unquestionably wonderful.
Outside of Penfolds Grange and Henschke Hill of Grace (probably THE greatest wines of Australia) I was party to some icons like Wendouree Shiraz (2002), Rockford Basket Press Shiraz (1996), Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier (2005), Mount Mary Quintet (2000) and Torbreck RunRig Shiraz (1998). These wines pay homage to the true greatness of the Australian wine industry. And if the world taste wines like this more often, they will quickly overturn the current global impression of Aussie wine.