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Cool Australia - Masterclass with Tom Cannavan and Emma Symington

I can still taste the sugary oak-chipped Chardonnay that typified a bottle grabbed on my way home from work in the 1990s. Mass production was making wine more popular and accessible than ever, and this big fruit-driven New World nectar was regularly sloshed into super-sized glasses. 

As a student in the eighties, I had drunk beer and vodka. Now I was in advertising and had graduated to wine. The price tag was cheap; the cost was quality and the reputation of particular grapes - particularly Chardonnay - which even had a character in the popular TV drama 'Footballers Wives' named after it.

How refreshing to be sitting in a tasting run by Master of Wine Emma Symington and Author and Broadcaster Tom Cannavan, decades later learning that Australian wines have shaken off their tacky past and are cool again. Exemplified by coast, elevation and 'tude. 

We begin appropriately with Kooyong' Clonale' Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay 2017 and Vasse Felix' Heytsebury' Margaret River Chardonnay 2017. Although both are still 'juicy', fruit here is severely tamed by flint and bursts of acidity resulting in elegance and a tight structure. They are two of four wines which fall into the 'Ocean’ flight of this masterclass and they come from Western Australia where a maritime climate influences the vines. 

The other two flights are called 'Attitude' and 'Altitude' the latter signifying the cool hipster tastes of cities such as Melbourne rather than any mountainous regions.

A Shaw and Smith Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2015 from Attitude; is a particularly savoury expression of the grape and tastes pleasantly 'briny' making me lust for a pile of Gordal olives. 

Altitude, however, contains some gems too.Dal Zotto' Pucino col Fondo' King Valley Glera 2016 is a very lively, creamy sparkler which would really complement some desserts. Glera is a synonym for prosecco grape but but subject to strict PGI rules tying Prosecco to Italy – Ssh!

 Apha Box and Dice 'Golden Mullet of Fury' McLaren Vale Semillon Viognier 2016 may hint that wine names are embarking on the same path as craft ales. It has a silky texture and saline notes. A fellow taster points also to Chamomile. Emma tells us she paired it with paella which worked well. It's a beezer. 

The upshot is that some exciting wines are coming out of Australia at the moment and after tasting these three flights, I am tempted to book one of my own. (S. Wilson) 

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