The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2015

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18  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2015 SAN FRAN INSIDER by Deborah Parker Wong W ith three consecutive years in the black, Australia's higher-end wines continue to benefit from U.S. consumers who are trading up; ideal timing for a demo by Australia's First Families of Wine (AFFW) of the history and quality that are fueling that progress. The AFFW roadshow brought 11 of the country's leading family- owned producers to a tasting at the Press Club in San Francisco, an event that kicked off a North American tour that progressed to New York and several cities in Canada. Wine Australia's Global Wine Educator Mark Davidson moderated the tasting, along with AFFW Chairman Robert Hill-Smith, chairman of Yalumba, Australia's oldest family-owned winery dating to 1849. In his opening remarks, Hill-Smith said, "These families represent the strongest pillars of our industry and the time is right to share their stories." Collectively, the group represents 5,000 hectares of vines across 16 winegrow- ing regions, with vineyards as unique as the winemakers who farm them. Divvied up into regions, more than half of the producers hail from South Australia, the best-known sub-region of which is Barossa Valley and home to Yalumba. In Eden Valley, Henschke's Mt. Edelstone Shiraz, from ancient ungrafted vines, is Australia's oldest single-vineyard wine, and the 2006 was intense, with sage and black pepper. The Jim Barry 2007 Florita Riesling from the rolling terra rossa hills of Clare Valley showed green apple and petrol with honeyed marmalade and toast, while the intensity of the cassis, coffee and dried herbs of Wakefield's 2005 St. Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon was disarming. A McWilliams 2002 Cabernet Shiraz blend from the hilltops of Coonawara had a floral nose and an impressively long, silky finish. d'Arenberg's 2004 The Derelict Vineyard Grenache from McLaren Vale was tart and delicious with spicy, savory, resin- ous fruit. From the southeast corner of Victoria, the lean tropical fruit and dry extract of Tahbilk's 2000 Marsanne hailed from vines planted in 1927. Further north, Brown Brothers 1997 Aged Release Shiraz, Mondeuse and Cabernet Sauvignon was a study in saline minerality, licorice, camphor and dried leaves. The chocolate-covered raisins and orange peel of Campbell's Merchant Prince Rare Rutherglen Muscat get depth from 70-year old base wines and solera aging. Sémillon starred in New South Wales with Tyrell's Wines 2005 Vat 1 Hunter Sémillon from Hunter Valley with coconut, pineapple, brown spice, honey, smoke and citrus and a botry- sized, perfumed De Bortoli 1984 Noble One Sémillon from Riverina was memorable. On the Rebound Australia's Global Wine Educator Mark Davidson introducing the producers of AFFW. Australia's First Families of Wine, left to right: Front Row: Peter Barry, Jim Barry Wines; Alister Purbrick, Tahbilk; Robert Hill-Smith, Yalumba; Bruce and daughter Jane Tyrrell, Tyrrell's. Back Row: Colin Campbell, Campbell's; Justin Taylor, Taylors/ Wakefield; Scott McWilliam, McWilliam's; Darren De Bortoli, De Bortoli; Chester Osborn, d'Arenberg; Ross and Judy Brown, Brown Brothers; and Stephen & Prue Henschke, Henschke. PHOTO: DANIEL KOKIN PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO: DANIEL KOKIN PHOTOGRAPHY AUSTRALIA'S FIRST FAMILIES OF WINE KICK OFF A U.S. TOUR

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