It’s hard to keep up with, so we consulted with expert and self confessed wine geek David Chan (from Melbourne private wine club Cellar Geeks), for his thoughts on what wines and grape varieties are hot at the moment.
DC: This is actually a tough question! What is “hot” very much depends on who you talk to and what you read. There seems to be a trend towards rare or unusual grape varieties and wines from places you would not immediately associate with wine making. There is also a growing trend (maybe obsession is a better word) with “natural wines”, however, most of these “uber-trendy” wines tend to be extremely difficult for the average wine enthusiast to get.
So what 3 grape varieties should you seek out now?
DC: How can I pick three out of so many “hot” varieties!?! For starters, I’m leaving out Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Shiraz, as these are and always will be the classic “hot” red wine varieties. Three grape trends to look out for are:
- Grenache (or Garnacha in Spanish)
This grape variety is well suited to Australia’s warm dry climate and long ripening seasons, producing fruity wines high in alcohol but low in acid and tannin. As such, it tends to be blended with other varietals (such as Shiraz) to produce more interesting wines with texture and a modicum of “ageability”.
Recently, grenache is experiencing a resurgence. A well made Australian grenache has a raspberry like jamminess with a touch of bark spices and a luscious mouthfeel.
Tip: Look for single variety grenache from the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale
For those more adventurous and ready to venture beyond Australian wines, I’d recommend you look for “Cote du Rhone” Reds. These are often inexpensive red wines from France’s Rhone Valley, where Grenache is often the major component in a blend of up to 13 different grape varieties! In truly great vintages, entry level Cote du Rhone wines (often retailing at big discount chains for $20 or less per bottle) are one of the best bargain Grenache-based wines you can get.
Tip: Look for the spectacular 2015 and 2016 Rhone Valley vintages that should be in stores now, selling at approximately $20 per bottle.
This grape variety, originally grown in the Bordeaux region of France was thought to be extinct, until it was rediscovered in Chile. It’s not widely grown in Australia, but there are plenty of good, affordable Chilean and Argentinian carmenère wines available in Australia. I will never forget my first experience drinking one - smooth, velvety and luscious in texture, with dark cherry chocolate liquid blackforest cake flavours - carmenère is one sexy, delicious wine!
OK I hear the groans even as I whisper the word “chardonnay”, but no, I will not apologise for this. To me, chardonnay is “hot”! It is true that many Australians have a hatred for this varietal given the less than ordinary examples they have had to endure in the past, however, at the turn of the 21st century, most Australian chardonnay makers started to “get it” and ever since, Australian chardonnay has been improving and evolving for the better.
Good Australian chardonnay does not come cheap, but compared to its illustrious counterpart from Burgundy, they’re much, much more affordable.
Tip: Look to Margaret River, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley, although the best Australian chardonnay in my book comes from Beechworth.
If you can afford it, try out a French Burgundy, just beware to do your homework and know not just the top vineyards, but also who are the best winemakers for each of those vineyards.
Tip: You can get some delicious affordable chardonnays from Mâcon, a subregion of Burgundy in France, from good wine stores.
Intertain has a range of experts who can help you pair wine with your dinner menu - just ask when booking your Intertain dinner party.
Published: 20 July 2017