Wine and Spirits / Aggressive Aussies

Australian wines are high in alcohol and tannins, generously oaked and often ripe enough that their fruits seem to have a jam-like consistency, appealing to those who like their wines on the "masculine" side - powerful and aggressive.

Not long ago I attended a tasting of Australian wines being imported to Israel by Mersch. Focusing almost entirely on Australia, the company has made a significant mark locally since it debuted in 2006.

The impression may be partly because many of their red wines can be categorized as blockbusters - high in alcohol and tannins, generously oaked and often ripe enough that their fruits seem to have a jam-like consistency. The wines are fine indeed, but because they are so forward and muscular they will appeal largely to those who like their wines on the "masculine" side - powerful and aggressive.

Because many of these wines are produced and imported in limited quantities they are available primarily via direct purchase from Mersch by telephone at 03 6342807 or at

Grosset, Riesling, Polish Hill, Clare Valley, Australia, 2010: Light bright gold colored, medium-bodied, opens with a nose of lemon, lime, peaches and minerals, not at all typical of Riesling. Crisp, mineral-rich and multi-fruity enough on first attack to make one think one is sipping a fine Chablis. In the glass the lemon and lime fruits go to notes of pears, the peaches turn into melon and, finally, as if to boast that this is indeed Riesling, light notes of spring flowers and gasoline that linger on the long finish. Perhaps not fully typical of the variety but a delight and one that will cellar comfortably. Drink now-2018. NIS 269. Score 92.

Schutz, Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon, Two of a Kind, Barossa, Australia, 2008: Dark garnet, with aromas of red fruits and chocolate, opening to show medium- to full-bodied, with soft tannins. Look for aromas and flavors of raspberries, black cherries and crushed berries, supported nicely by notes of tobacco, bitter herbs and on the long finish a hint of molasses. Moderately long, a fine match to lamb or mutton chops or pork cutlets. Drink now-2015. NIS 120. Score 90.

Rockbare, Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia, 2009: The color of black cherry juice, full-bodied, reflecting its 14 months in oak with generous but soft tannins and notes of spicy wood. On first attack blueberries and licorice, those yielding comfortably to black fruits, cigar tobacco and dark chocolate, all leading to a long and mouth-filling finish. Send me to a psychiatrist if necessary to check on my free associations but on the long finish I could not help but think of borscht. A fine wine but a highly stylized one, perhaps not suited to every palate. Me, what the heck, I like borscht even if I find it in my wine. Drink now-2016. NIS 114. Score 90.

Tait, The Ball Buster, Barossa, Australia, 2008: Whether one considers the name of this wine vulgar or simply amusing is a matter of personal taste. A super-dark, full-bodied blend of 76 percent Shiraz and 12 percent each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, aged in American oak for 12 months. Generous soft tannins here, supporting aromas and flavors of red and purple plums and a generous array of lead-pencil, licorice and cigar tobacco. From mid-palate and on to the long finish notes of exotic spices and demerara sugar. Drink now-2012. NIS 147. Score 89.

Teusner, Shiraz, The Riebke, Barossa, Australia, 2009: Dark garnet toward royal purple, with near-sweet tannins and crushed berries on the nose. Full-bodied, a rich wine with generous ripe plums, wild berries and hints of leather and tar and from mid-palate on a note of black pepper. Concentrated and intense but not at all overpowering, a hint of sweetness on the long finish adding to the charm of the wine. Best 2012-2016. NIS 147. Score 90.

Mollydooker, Cabernet Sauvignon, Maitre d', South Australia, 2009: Dark garnet, with a rich black fruit and spicy nose, opens slowly in the glass to reveal a rich, muscular, full-bodied and fruit forward wine. On first attack generous oak and blackcurrants, yielding to notes of mint, licorice and freshly picked herbs. Lots of alcohol, wood and fruit here makes for a somewhat intense wine and, on the long finish notes of mint and roasted meat. Drink now-2015, perhaps longer. NIS 178. Score 90.

Colonial Estate, Exile, Barossa, Australia, 2008: A blend of Shiraz and Mourvedre with a small amount of white Muscatel grapes. Super-dark, full-bodied, with generous wood and tannins, opens with a nose full of red fruits and black pepper. Goes on to show blackberry and black currant on a background that hints at moments of bitter-sweet chocolate, mint and tar. Is it worth NIS 624, though? Drink now-2013. Score 91.