Peter Baker – Premium Domestic Sourcing Manager at Vintage Cellars and one of the judges of the 2023 Best of Wine Awards – says it’s not just red wines that deliver this extra punch of flavour, there are also some full-bodied and excellent white wines and blends that pair beautifully with autumn’s more robust flavours. Here’s our guide to the best wine styles from semillon to shiraz, ready to pair with hearty dishes such as nourishing casseroles, spicy curries and smoky barbecued meats.
Combining sauvignon blanc with other white varietals yields a deliciously vibrant character. “In the case of sauvignon blanc and semillon, both wine varieties on their own tend towards acidity,” Peter explains. “But in the winemaking technique, the winemakers can build in greater weight and texture which makes them perfect for richer foods.” When it comes to food pairing, “A simple prawn ravioli with a burnt butter sauce, or a coconut-rich Thai green curry would be a wonderful match,” Peter says. A classic sauvignon blanc blend to try is the Pajot Cote du Gascogne with its clean, mineral notes. This is a hand-harvested, organic blend of sauvignon blanc with colombard, ugni-blanc (known as trebbiano in Italy) and gros-manseng that epitomises the famed Gascony region of France. Made by the father and son team of Damien and Clement Barreau, they are widely considered one of the top quality winemakers in the Gascogne region.
“Hunter semillon is built to last,” says Peter, who has opened bottles he’s had for 20 years and they remain perfectly fresh. Like chardonnay, semillon is famous for its big flavours. “Semillon is super versatile with food because of its acidity and fruit weight,” Peter explains. Accordingly, this wine style matches perfectly with a range of rich ham, chicken and duck dishes, seafood and shellfish and even soft cheeses. Peter’s perfect match would be a simple baked salmon with lemon and dill. An excellent starting point for exploring this robust variety is Tyrrell’s Hunter Valley Semillon. “This is a truly iconic wine,” says Peter. “Hunter semillon is absolutely unique to Australia.” Sourced from an exclusive selection of Tyrrell’s famed semillon blocks in the Hunter region, it has fresh citrus and grapefruit notes with a pleasingly soft finish.
“Stylistically, Barossa Valley reds are rich and powerful wines,” Peter says. Heartwarming fare such as gourmet sausages, sticky ribs, spicy cevapcici, smoky barbecued meats and earthy vegetables are your go-to choices for a tasty pairing. “I would choose hanger steak, perfectly seasoned with mustard,” says Peter. He also mentions an important trick to getting the best out of your shiraz. “On a hot day, or if in a warm room, always serve it below room temperature due to the higher alcohol content of this variety.” For the ultimate Australian shiraz, choose a bottle of St Hallett Lore of the Land Shiraz. Created by the Hampel and Fromm families, who have been vignerons in the Barossa for five generations, this drop is the perfect choice for your next dinner party.
“There are some really smart wineries in the Barossa producing grenache,” Peter says. “Grenache is a great choice if you don’t want a big shiraz or a lighter pinot,” he explains. Packed with an abundance of exotic notes such as orange rind, plum, raspberry, tobacco, anise and aromatic spices, this variety is a perfect match with roasted meats, grilled veggies, stews, game birds, pizza, cured meats and even curries such as massaman. “I’d serve a grenache with a classic roast pork with crackling,” Peter says. “And if you want to keep it simple, choose a slippery, silky goat cheese.” Check out Head Wines Head Red GSM Barossa Valley. Due to a mild 2021 vintage, this grenache has spent nine months in a seasoned hogshead barrel with a splash of mataro to create a perfectly refined drop. For a fancy choice, choose the almost mythical Torbreck The Steading Grenache Blend. This remarkable wine has a basis in 100-year-old vines that have been lovingly preserved by the Torbreck family and offers an earthy, lush mouthful with hints of raspberry and a lovely soft tannin finish. It’s perfect for savouring on a cool autumn evening.
Products featured are available from 12/04/23 to 16/05/23, while stocks last. Some products or varieties featured may not be available in all stores.