Kicking off #QldWineWeek with 2 very different alternates
Today is the start of #QldWineWeek, a (now annual) week-long celebration of all things Queensland wine, first started with a pilot project last year and now growing into something much bigger (hopefully).
Firstly though, let’s address the elephant in the room…
‘They make wine in QLD?!’
That was the response I got just this afternoon after announcing that there would be plenty of QLD wine in the Graham household this week. Such an attitude, sadly, reflects the challenges that QLD wines are burdened with, as the common perception is that the ‘Sunshine State’ is simply too warm to grow winegrapes.
In reality, there are several QLD regions that are winegrape suitable, with two spots standing out – the Granite Belt, straddling the Great Dividing Range in the far south of the state, and the South Burnett, located inland NW of Brisbane.
Importantly, both are actually much cooler and less humid than the warm and moist coastal regions QLD is best known for, with the elevation of both regions helping to slow things down. Heck, they get snow in the Granite Belt on occasion! Vintage rain is always an issue, however, and disease risk is high which makes vineyard vigilance so very important.
Perhaps the bigger issue, however, is simply how young and relatively unserious many QLD wineries are. There are but a handful of producers with a real focus on high quality wines, and the isolated nature of both regions means that tourism is still in its infancy. Worse still, the perceptions of the QLD wine industry are often shaped by the wineries located closer to the coast, many of whom make their money in weddings, not winemaking.
Such challenges are part of the reason why #QldWineWeek is important, for it offers us a week-long excuse to highlight all the good bits about QLD wine – and there are good bits to be had.
Now, before delving into tonight’s wines, a shout out to the Brisbanites that helped make this #QldWineWeek thing happen – Stu Robinson, Peter Marchant, Michael Ellis and Steve Leszczynski. Kudos to you all.
As for the wines – fittingly, the two I opened tonight illustrate the highs and lows of QLD wine; the variability and the potential.
15%, Screwcap, $42
An intense, typically monstrously proportioned Saperavi, this is more of a fruit bomb than a strictly structured Sap. but has no shortage of dried fruit concentration, licoricey furry undergrowth wildness and topped with a bitter finish.
Genuinely interesting and altogether impressive.
Clovely Estate Left Field Sangiovese 2013 (South Burnett)
13.5%, Screwcap, $22
This wine, sadly, looks odd. It’s a Beaujolais inspired Sangio with a colour that is more light red cordial than red wine. It smells light too – of lightly candied red fruit that doesn’t quite fit with Sangio. There’s some nice florals but they’re all too fleeting before a palate that tastes meaty, beefier and warmer than expected, finishing spiky and awkward too, just to confuse everyone.
Ultimately this is an experiment that I just don’t get. Still, if that floral juiciness on the nose could be harnessed this would be a winner…