The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2018

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42  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2018 AUSTRALIAN WINE AUSTRALIAN WINEMAKER NEIL MCGUIGAN SEEKS TO CAPTURE AMERICANS' ATTRACTION TO FOOD-FRIENDLY WINES by Fred Swan T he McGuigan family's celebrated involvement in Australian wine began in 1880, with dairy farmer Owen McGuigan taking side jobs in Hunter Valley vineyards. Today, Chief Winemaker/CEO Neil McGuigan presides over a prominent, multi-award-winning winery with products—including both Australia's best-selling bottle and a profound, ageworthy statement wine—that sell in 40-plus countries. The range expresses the modern Australian sensibility: wines that are fruit-forward yet mouthwatering and food-friendly. I recently had lunch with the gregarious McGuigan, who, despite being less well- known in the United States, is a household name in Australia. He believes, however, that the current state of the industry has presented an ideal opportunity to change that: The success of Australian wine on American shelves has long ebbed and flowed with currency exchange rates, but now the Aussie dollar is weak. "I've seen a dramatic evolution in our wine culture," McGuigan tells The Tasting Panel. "Per capita wine consumption is higher than ever, with 50 percent growth since 2000. Wine is prominent on television shows, which were once dominated by other drinks, and we see that Americans are increasingly looking for refreshing wines which complement food." One of two primary product lines McGuigan offers in the U.S., McGuigan The Plan includes wines that are very accessible in both profile and price. The fruit-forward Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and red blend all hail from southeastern Australia and retail for just $12—excellent values by the glass or bottle. Uniquely Australian, the line features packaging with a blueprint design that pays homage to preceding generations of McGuigans who have stayed the course since 1880. Those seeking complex, long-lived Shiraz with prevalent regional character, meanwhile, will appreciate McGuigan Hand Made Shiraz ($40). The fruit comes from low-yielding vines in Langhorne Creek, located about an hour southeast of Adelaide. Warm, sunny days and cool nights courtesy of brisk ocean breezes deliver ripe and deeply colored grapes that retain plenty of freshness. Together we tasted the 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014 vintages, which show very well and express distinct personalities driven by the particulars of each. They are long, full- bodied and intensely flavorful with fine, well-integrated tannins balanced by attractive acidity. Their black-fruited cores are enhanced with notes of chocolate, dark mineral, eucalyptus, and nuanced wood. McGuigan The Philosophy ($125), the company's icon wine, is made with fruit from the Sevenhill area of Clare Valley and Shiraz from Auburn in Clare Valley's southern edge. The 2013—fermented in open top, concrete tanks—is 56% Cabernet Sauvignon and 44% Shiraz. Aged two years in French oak with an additional two in bottle, it's lush with fine, chalky tannins, yet juicy and loaded with dark chocolate, sweet black fruit, cherry, and roasted oak. Man with The Plan PHOTOS COURTESY OF PALM BAY INTERNATIONAL McGuigan's The Plan line includes wines that are very accessible in both profile and price. McGuigan The Philosophy, the company's icon wine, is made with fruit from Australia's Clare Valley. McGuigan Chief Winemaker Neil McGuigan has been named International Winemaker of the Year a record four times by the prestigious International Wine & Spirits Competition in London, making McGuigan the first winery to achieve this feat. PHOTOS COURTESY OF PALM BAY INTERNATIONAL

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