5 Southern Hemisphere Wines to Sip and Escape the Winter Blues
January 2, 2019
Fun fact: For southern hemisphere wines, grapes are harvested in March and April. People in the wine industry are like —> duh. But it’s not something the general consumer thinks about. Because our winter is their summer and our summer is their winter, their peak-growing season is November thru February and harvest is in our Spring. Here in the northern hemisphere, harvest is September and October.
So what does that mean, exactly?
Not much, except if you’re one to pay attention to new release white wines. Let’s compare a 2017 New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to a 2017 Californian Sauvignon Blanc. The one from NZ is actually 6 months older than the one from California. By no means should this be a deciding factor when chosing between bottles. Light to medium bodied white wines should be fresh for 2 or 3 years. However, it’s interesting to pay attention to in stores. You’ll soon see southern hemisphere wines flip to 2018 vintages before the traditional ‘spring release’ of northern hemisphere wineries.
So while we’re trudging our way through winter, it’s nice to take a bit of a mental break and think about summer. It’s Summer Somewhere, right? Specifically, right now on the flip side of the earth where the following wines hail from.
Cono Sur Organic Sauvignon Blanc & Organic Chardonnay
$14.99 at BC Liquor Stores Distributed by: Authentic Wine & Spirits Sip alongside a dinner made solely of in-season ingredients from local vendors.
When researching a producer, I’ve grown accustomed looking for the ‘About Us’ tab on their website. I like diving into the history and family behind the wine label. Cono Sur from Chile doesn’t have that, and they’re not afraid to tell you. On their homepage it states ‘No Family Tree, No Dusty Bottles, Just Quality Wine’. Made from 100% organically grown certified grapes, many of their bottles depict an image of a bicycle. This image represents the estate workers who pedal their way to the vineyards each day. So while there’s no family tree, there’s an essence of loyalty and hard work behind each of their wines. To up the ante, Cono Sur was the first winery in the world to receive the CarbonNeutral® delivery Status and their labels are made from recycled paper. *mic drop*
Their Organic Sauvignon Blanc has quintessential Chilean freshness with loads of citrus flavours, primarily grapefruit and lime. The acidity is balanced against the minerality and ever-so-slight touch of floral and herb. By comparison, their Organic Chardonnay is equally as light and fresh yet with more pear and green apple flavours. Only 5% of the juice was aged in barrel giving it just enough roundness while still displaying the true character of the Chardonnay grape. Both are fantastic value, every day sippers.
Wakefield Clare Valley Riesling
Approximately $25 at private wine stores Distributed by: The Bacchus Group Sip when you want to thank someone for inventing the screw cap bottle.
In 2000, Wakefield and 11 other Aussie producers released the first wines under screw cap. This Clare Valley Riesling was one of those wines. If that’s not reason to seek out a bottle and thank them for not having to tote around a corkscrew, I don’t know what is! A few years later in 2004, Wakefield became the first Australian producer to release all their wines under screw cap. To call them leading edge is an understatement.
Clare Valley is one of the most a picturesque regions in Australia. Known for its rolling hills and sweeping gullies, the Wakefield estate spans 1900 acres. Dry and citrus forward, this Riesling has less than a gram of sugar per litre with mouth watering lemon and lime flavours. Orange blossom also comes through, giving an enticing depth and complexity. The acidity is high but it’s balanced and generous on the finish.
Humberto Canale Estate Pinot Noir
Approximately $19 at private wine stores Distributed by: Lifford Wine & Spirits Sip when you want your friends to try something you know they’ve never had.
An Argentinian Pinot Noir – say what? Did you know there’s not a single Pinot Noir from Argentina available at BC Liquor Stores. Not-a-one. This is a bottle you’re going to have to seek out in private wine stores, but it’s worth the exploration. This wine hails from Patagonia, one of the southern most tips of South America that is able to grow grapes. Founded in 1909, Humberto Canale has 4 generations of history and is now run by Guillermo Barzi Canale. Its current production is more than 1.5 million bottles with plans to increase infrastructure to meet more demand.
The Estate Pinot Noir boasts elegance. The nose is earthy and spicy while the flavours are more fruit forward with ripe raspberry and black cherry. The body is light to medium and the complexities are deep. Smooth tannins and a hint of vanilla from the small part (20%) aged in French oak for 7 months.
The Ned Pinot Noir
$21.49 at BC Liquor Stores Distributed by: Authentic Wine & Spirits Sip when you want a great wine, a great label and a great rating.
If you follow Patagonia’s latitude around the earth, you’ll hit New Zealand, which is where The Ned is from. Created by Brent Morris (former winemaker at Oyster Bay), The Ned is named after one of the tallest peaks southeast of Marisco’s vineyards in Marlborough. Marisco Vineyards is a family legacy for Brent. In 2003, he sought out to find a piece of special vineyard property. The Ned was launched three years later, after finding an exceptional 268 hectare piece of land on the banks of the Waihopai River.
Rated 90 points by Decanter, this Pinot Noir has next-level vibrancy. Red cherry and blackberry pour out of every drop with a touch of herb on the finish. This 2015 vintage can be enjoyed today or could go another 2 years if you dare to be adventurous. And can we talk about this label for a second? I’m so in love with the topographic illustration, it adds such personality and essence-of-place to every bottle.
Xanadu DJL Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon & DJL Margaret River Chardonnay
Approximately $25 at private wine stores Distributed by: Revelry Import Co. Sip when you want to learn a little about 18th century English literature.
I know what you’re thinking, the name Xanadu is likely a reference to the 1980 Olivia Newton John roller-skating disco movie. Surprise! It’s not. Instead, it’s actually a reference to the 1797 poem, Kubla Khan, by English poet Samuel Coleridge. In the poem, Coleridge describes a mysterious, idyllic, exotic city, which he calls Xanadu. When founder, Dr. John Lagan, arrived in Margaret River in 1968, he recalled the poem and thought it to be a fitting name for his property.
The 2016 DJL Chardonnay sat in oak barrels for 9 months, which gives it a medium body and sultry mouthfeel. Can you tell there’s oak? Yes. Should you be afraid to try it? Heck no! This isn’t your grandma’s oaky chard. This is fresh, vibrant, modern style Margaret River chard. It’s got edge and layers. No buttery finish, just straight up structure and fruit.
The 2016 DJL Cabernet Sauvignon is stately. It’s big and bold with loads of black fruit flavours such as plums and blackberries. The fruit is complimented with layered flavours of chocolate, coffee, spice and sage herb. 96% of the blend is Cabernet Sauvignon, which brings the majority of the swag. However, a small amount of Petite Verdot takes it up a notch adding intensity of tannin, colour and flavour.
I hope you happen upon at least one or two of these bottles and dream of summer, somewhere! If you really want to take a break from reality, check out Coleridge’s Xanadu poem here.