Australia’s best wines with altitude

Winemaker Jacob Stein of Robert Stein Vineyards (Photo: Robert Stein Wines)

Does altitude matter when it comes to wine quality?

Like many parameters that influence the character of wine, it is normally the sum of the factors rather than one element alone that affects wine quality. With altitude, you generally get cooler temperatures, and in the hot Australian climate that can often be a good thing.

The Australian Highlands Wine Show is open to all Australian wines sourced from vineyards grown above 500 metres in altitude.

Entrants in the 2017 show came from compliant vineyards from the Southern Highlands, Orange, Mudgee, New England, Hilltops, Canberra District and Tumbarumba in New South Wales; the Adelaide Hills and the Clare Valley in South Australia; and the Granite Belt in Queensland.

Robert Stein Winery continued its 2017 winning streak by picking up three major awards for their 2017 Reserve Riesling: The Southern Highlands Food & Wine Association Trophy for Best Wine in Show; the Gibraltar Hotel Trophy for Best White Wine in Show; and the Leslie Fritz Trophy for Best Riesling.

Tamburlaine was another shining star. Their 2017 Orange Reserve Fumé Blanc won the Bistro Officina Trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc; their 2016 Orange Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon won the Harris Farm Trophy for Best Cabernet Sauvignon, and their 2017 Orange Reserve Malbec won the Hot Canary Butchery Trophy for Best Other Single Red Varietal.

The riesling classes were very strong showing the affinity that the variety has for cooler temperatures. Aside from the trophy winner, which had great drive and intensity, the 2016 Cook’s Lot Allotment 333 Riesling (AUD $22) looked fabulous with its powerful palate and citrusy core. As did the 2017 Logan Weemala Riesling, not yet released.

In chardonnay, the 2015 Cherry Tree Hill Reserve Diana picked up gold for its mealy, weighty and textural palate. I also adored the silver medal winning 2015 Centennial Vineyards Road Block Chardonnay, with its lemon and grapefruit flavours and nutty complexity.

The trophy-winning chardonnay, the 2016 Cooks Lot Allotment 3 Chardonnay, was youthful and zesty, though not yet released. But in the meantime, you can try the current 2014 which is delicious.

Pinot Gris was very strong with many of the wines showing great personality. The gold went to the 2016 Redbank Sunday Morning Pinot Gris, and it also took out the Eschalot Restaurant Trophy for Best Pinot Gris in show.

2017 See Saw Rosé picked up the Bowral Book Store Trophy for best Rosé. And the Destination Southern Highlands would have been pleased that their trophy went to a Southern Highlands wine, 2016 Rotherwood Estate.

For the full list of results, click here.

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