Following a superlative trade tasting which showcased nearly 1,100 wines from 41 different regions for Australia Day 2018 in London last week, Times wine expert James Viner reveals what’s going on down under…

WITH a geographical size similar to Europe and with equally distinct climates, soils and
terroirs, it’s no surprise that Australia has a diverse portfolio of wines and wine styles. With a 23% market share, it also continues to be the most popular country of origin in the UK’s off-trade. Here are three brilliant bottles that will perk up your palate and give you more bang for your buck…


1) 2016 Irresistible Chardonnay, Western Australia (£6.99, Co-Op)

You really must taste this medium-bodied gem from the Co-op – there’s no betterquality
Aussie ‘Chardy’ under the critical £7 mark in the UK. With a flourish of Nashi pear, melon and nectarine boosted by a whisper of honeysuckle and cashew, this is a cultured wine for a highly competitive price tag. Spot on for Fettuccine Alfredo, seafood risotto or a chicken and leek pie. Made for the Co-op by the gifted Larry Cherubino. The sweet mystery is the price: it’s one of the steals of the year. Alc 12.5%



2) 2011 Jansz Tasmania Vintage Cuvée, Pipers River (£18.95-£26, WineDirect/Dulwich Vintners/Oddbins)

Tasmania has Australia’s coolest climate and boasts some of the world’s best seafood. Jansz made its first traditional method fizz and is the only winery there devoted entirely to sparkling wine. A blend of 56% Chardonnay 44% and Pinot Noir, this is fulsome fizz with gorgeous echoes of white flowers, honey nougat, lemon curd and lots of biscuity/nutty/buttery brioche nuances. Extended lees age has built a gloriously creamy texture, perfect line, dainty bubbles and marked persistence. Dry, complex, elegant and tailor-made for light seafood dishes (and a good all-rounder for Indian and Cantonese dishes), this is a beauty in a bottle. Alc 12%



3) 2014 Tahbilk Nagambie Lakes Cabernet Sauvignon, Central Victoria (£12.50, The Wine Society)

The land of the comparatively small grower, Victoria possesses the highest number of wineries of any state. Situated 120km north of Melbourne, Tahbilk is a winery invested in tradition with National Trust classification. It was a founding member of Australia’s ‘First Families of Wine’ and still produces an icon Shiraz from vines planted in 1860 and a white from reputedly the world’s oldest Marsanne vines. This delicious Cabernet from a winery on song meanwhile punches well above its price point. The texture and flavour are nothing more or less than perfect, juicy cassis and dark berry fruits with a garland of cedary French oak, supported by touches of dried herbs, black olives, mocha and ripe tannins on the seamless palate. Drink it with venison or a beef rib roast and you will be in dreamland. A big-time bargain, whether enjoyed tonight or in a decade. Alc 13.5%


Follow James on Twitter @QuixoticWine