Warming winter 'Oz variety' reds: grenache, mataro and shiraz

Rhone grape varieties such as grenache have made themselves right at home in Australia.
Rhone grape varieties such as grenache have made themselves right at home in Australia. Photo: iStock

Some of the friendliest, warmest, smoothest, winter-weight reds made in Australia today come from the so-called "Rhone varieties", although these grapes have such a rich history on the local wine scene that they could just as well be called "Oz varieties". For 170 years grenache, mataro (sometimes known now by its French moniker mourvedre) and shiraz have been mainstays in our vineyards. Their versatility has seen them made into red wines, rosés, fortifieds, even spirits. Changing fashions made grenache and mataro very old hat 30 or 40 years ago, but now they're back in vogue, sometimes as straight varietals, and often in two or three-way blends with the other varieties.

S.C. Pannell Clarendon Smart Grenache 2018, $59-$62

Score: 95

Superb old vine grenache from high country near McLaren Vale. Plum, dark berry, earth, pepper and old oak seamlessly flow through a plump, juicy, ripe palate of good body, depth, and firm, ripe tannin backbone. Lovely. Screw cap; 14.5 per cent alcohol.

Ageing? Drink over 10 years.

Stockists include: Wine House, Southbank (Vic); Different Drop, differentdrop.com (NSW).

Hewitson Miss Harry Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2017, $24-$27

Score: 90

A savoury, dry Barossa blend smelling of dried currants, peppery leaves and forest undergrowth. Medium-bodied, it isn't about overt fruit. Instead, its meaty, smoky notes and grainy textures give interest, sinewy tannins tight structure. Screw cap; 14 per cent alcohol.

Ageing? Drink over five years.

Stockists include: Five Way Cellars, Paddington (NSW); Hewitson cellar door at hewitson.com.au

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Hewitson Old Garden Vineyard 2016, $85-$89

Score: 96

From probably the oldest mourvedre vines in the world (1853). So complex. Dried berries, plums, shiny leather, dusty cellars, mocha, bakery spice, caramel and tarry notes; super depth and length, full, rich, complete. Wow! Cork; 14 per cent alcohol.

Ageing? Drink over 10 years plus.

Stockists include: Five Way Cellars, Paddington (NSW); Hewitson cellar door at hewitson.com.au