Winter in Sydney – fireplaces are an anomaly, and the inky Barossa Shiraz just doesn’t quite make friends the same way it does down south.
Below, I’ve listed some of the best wines I’ve sipped in Sydney this winter. Mostly red and still young, spanning Beechworth to Piedmont, these five are opening up and are perfectly smashable right now.
Jamsheed Roussanne Beechworth 2012 $38+
There are two things that are never as good in the city as they are in the country: pies and roasts. Chicken – basted in butter – with soft, crunchy potatoes, steamed beans and thick, gooey gravy was the Sunday night winter warmer of my childhood. Why not debate with friends whose mother carved up a better roast over a glass of Jamsheed Rousanne? This is a wintery white. Whole bunches, French oak and wild yeast add a creaminess that smears the mouth like butter. Oddly, there’s still minerality layered here, with lemon thyme and lemon geranium. Sip slowly, and save enough to pair with dessert. If you’re lucky, it may well be Lemon Delicious Pudding.
Monte dall’Ora Saseti Valpolicella Verona 2011 $45+
There’s nothing quite as comforting in the winter rain as plump potato gnocchi. Spoon over a hearty, gamey ragu, find yourself a bottle of Monte and say grazie (Just like Brad Pitt in Inglorious Basterds). Here you’ll find the region’s traditional varietals: Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Osleta. Pretty on the nose, with plum and soaked red cherry on the palate. Oak has been forgotten in favour of stainless steel with natural yeasts. Bottled unfiltered and unfined. Delicate, savoury, supple.
Holyman Pinot Noir Tasmania 2012 $60+
If you’re an Aussie Pinot aficionado, you’ve probably been drinking Joe Holyman’s juice for a while. If you haven’t tried it, go and fetch a bottle or two. It’s being bandied as one of the best in Australia. Plump cherries, spice and complexity due to whole bunches from the excellent 2012 vintage. There’s a lot going on, and the wine’s titillating straight out of the decanter. After an hour, the initial complexity huffs and puffs, but manages to keep up with a plate of coq a vin and some creamy and salty mashed potatoes.
Maretti Langhe Rosso Piedmont $35+ 2012
Made from 70% Barbera and 30% Nebbiolo, this gem from Piedmont has the flair of a Barolo without the weighty price tag. While the wine’s still fleshy, there’s enough savouriness to pair with pork and prunes, and a smooth and buttery potato mash. If any are sent to the cellar without supper, this is the one to go.
Lammershoek Lam Pinotage 2013 $25
‘Organically Farmed Grapes
Dry Mediterranean Climate
Unirrigated Old Bush Vines
No Yeast, Acid or Enzymes added
Unfined and unfiltered’
Acid and Tannin didn’t get invited to this party. It’s cherry compote and slickness. The colour is somewhere between a Mornington Pinot and Aunty Beryl’s glass of forgotten rose. If you want to give the casserole dish some time off the flame, rip out a Lammershoek and fire up a fillet of salmon. A pea and ham soup would also go handsomely. This wine drinks so well on its own I hesitate recommending a food match at all. Drink now, and drink fast.
The back of the bottle warns me, perhaps a little late, that ‘alcohol is addictive’.