A Review of Some Really Great Australian Wines
by John Dunham
The grass was greener. The light was brighter. The taste was sweeter.
The nights of wonder, with friends surrounded.
The dawn mist glowing. The water flowing. The endless river, forever and ever.
These are the lyrics that end the last song in what was really Pink Floyds’ last album, The Division Bell.
Written by David Gilmour and his wife, Polly Sampson, in 1994, Gilmour has said that the song is about his early days, and leaving his hometown behind.
No End Of Misery?
Hopes End wine also tells a story about leaving one’s hometown behind. The wine is named for the place where one of Australia’s oldest winemaking families, the Angoves, began producing back in the late 1800s, Port Misery, South Australia.
The winery was actually started by a settler named William Angove a young doctor, found his livelihood mixing elixirs, and soon, wine—the perfect antidote to the adversity of the aptly-named, swampy, mosquito-plagued rea.
Port Misery is actually part of Adelaide, the capital of South Australia and Dr. Angove’s vineyards are now part of the holdings of Angove Family Winemakers, located just to the south of the city in the McLaren Vale wine-making region.
The area has a warm, dry Mediterranean climate with long warm days and short cool nights and os best known for its Shiraz.
But it also produces a range of grapes including Grenache, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Riesling.
There is a range of different soil types, from reddish brown top-soils to soft sands, providing distinct terroir on different vineyards.
The Angove Family Winemakers use these different vineyards to produce a range of very high-end wines, most of which are exported to the United States by Trinchero Family Estates.
The Tasting Notes for Hopes End Wines
We began our tasting with the Hopes End Red Blend (2015: $11), we find a super dark red wine with a nose featuring dark fruits, some black pepper and interestingly green beans.
The wine was heavy and syrupy up front and the heavy nature never broke down across the palate. It was fruity with dark fruits – plum notes as well as some chocolate on its long finish.
This is a good value priced wine, that would make an excellent substitute for some of the heavier varietals like Zinfindel, Malbec or even Bordeaux blends that one would pair with steaks, chops, stews and other heavy meats.
Being the wine is from Australia, I would think that it would pair well with lamb.
At the event to launch the wine at the Dead Rabbit pub in lower Manhattan, it was being paired with steak tartare, an excellent choice.
Hopes End is a large production wine and is geared toward the general market. However, at the event, the Angove Family Winemakers were featuring a number of their very high-end offerings, all of which are broadly available.
5 Generations of Family Winemakers
Richard Angove, from the fifth generation of family winemakers, pointed out that many of the company’s wines came from individual vineyards, made only during the best vintage years.
The GSM (for Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) (2015: $22) was garnet red in color with the kind of laundry room nose one finds from Syrah, though with some black pepper notes.
The wine as super fruity up front with cherry and plum notes.
Across the mid-palate there were more peppery notes and the finish brought out vanillas.
This is a reasonably priced blend to pair with spicier and fattier foods like duck or Chinese foods.
While the company also produces a range of Shiraz and Chardonnays in the $20-$30 range, there were some outstanding single vineyard wines available at the tasting.
On the palate, the wine was spicy, with dark fruits in the middle, and cocoa and nutty notes on the finish.
The tannins were very soft, and this wine is ready to drink now.
As someone who really does not like Syrah, this was a treat, something I would actually want to drink by itself, but that would pair well with a range of dishes from grilled steak, to a hazelnut torte.
The Warboys vineyard has an interesting story as well.
It began as a way to help soldiers with disabilities and today the small vineyard is organically farmed and produces some of the best grapes in the region.
The Warboys Grenache (2012: $80) was light red in color with a dusty black cherry nose.
Powerful red cherry notes up from gave way to grassier tastes on the end. The wine has a very light structure and should be drunk soon.
And we tasted the Medhyk Syrah (2013: $120). Only 1,200 cases of this wine which is named in honor of Dr. Angove were produced, so it is only available in the best wine shops or lists.
Dark purple to red in color, the nose is floral, with spicy and blueberry undertones – nothing like one expects from a Shiraz.
The tannins were soft but the structure was solid meaning the wine could still age.
Front of the palate featured dark berries along with red fruits like currant, after a sweet middle palate the wine ended with a light spice note.
According to Richard Angove these lighter structured Syrah wines are all about the terroir, especially at the Warboys Vineyard.
The soils and cooler climate in South Australia can produce some Syrah grapes with a totally different character to those found in the Rhone.
High Hopes for the Australian Wine Region
Overall, the wines being produced by the Angove Family should make their founder proud.
And, with the launch of Hopes End to the larger wine drinking public, there’s new excitement in the Australian wine region.
To learn more about Hopes End and watch the launch video, visit www.hopesendwine.com