reds When it comes to red wines, the varieties to choose from are vast. We all know and love the classics such as Shiraz, Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Grenache and Sangiovese, and are pretty au fait with alternative styles like Tempranillo, Nero d’Avola, and Montepulciano, but what about the more obscure reds that have caught the attention of Australian winemakers?
Here are six very interesting red varietals making waves here in Australia that the Tasting Panel suggests you really need to explore.
1. PINOT MEUNIER [PEE-NO MOO-NEE-YAY]
While you might, know its role in Champagne and Sparkling wines, Pinot Meunier has single variety appeal all of its own.
Similar too: Pinot Noir
Characters: Light weight wines that are high in acidity, full of red fruits like cranberry and cherry with notes of rhubarb and five spice.
Pair with: Mushrooms, charcuterie, duck, pork, salmon and tuna.
Find out more about Pinot Meunier
2. TOURIGA [TOO-REE-GAH]
Touriga is a case of what’s old is new again. It was originally grown and used for fortified wine production, but now is seen as a wonderful variety for warm climates.
Characters: Full bodied, very aromatic with a distinctive violet note, black fruits like blackcurrant and plum with notes of tobacco leaf and general robust tannins.
Pair with: Lamb, barbequed red meats, or slow cooked braised dishes – anything full flavoured.
Find out more about Touriga
3. CABERNET FRANC [CAB-ER-NAY FRANK]
If you’re after a lighter, fresher red wine, look no further than the parent grape of the more famous variety – Cabernet. While there has been plantings and production of Cabernet Franc in Australia for many, many years, it has never been the main act – it has tended to be the support player, until now.
Similar too: A medium-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon
Characters: There are two distinct styles: Medium weight and fresh with redcurrant, cranberry, black tea and bay leaf, or fuller-bodied with muscular tannins, blackcurrant, mulberry, mint tea and cedar.
Pair with: Lamb, vegetable tagine. Lighter styles are delicious with cured meats.
4. SAGRANTINO [SAH-GRAHN-TEE-NO]
Sangrantino hails from the southern half of Italy, most prominently Umbria where the region’s famed wines are those of Sagrantino di Montefalco.
Similar too: Full-bodied Shiraz.
Characters: Produces full-bodied wines that are dark in colour with dense and full of black fruit flavours. The fruit is one of the most tannic of all of Italy’s red varieties.
Pair with: Slow-cooked beef ribs, roasted venison fillet or baked root vegetables.
5. CARIGNAN [CARE-IN-YEN]
Originating in Spain, Carignan was more widely planted in Australia prior to the vine pull of the 1980s. It is used as an important blending wine with Grenache, Shiraz and Mataro amongst others, and has shown its ability to make quality wines in warm to hot climate regions around the country.
Similar too: Shiraz
Characters: A wine that is big on everything – colour, black fruit flavour, spice, acidity and tannin grip.
Pair with: Spiced sausage, eggplant lasagne or lentils.
6. AGLIANICO [ALLI-AMN-ICO]
Aglianico hails from the southern half of Italy, most notably Basilicata and Campania. Its ability to make deeply coloured and aromatic wines in warm to hot regions indicates that it is a variety with considerable future in Australia.
Characters: Full-bodied, but elegant wines with high levels of acidity and tannin. Flavours of black cherry, plum, dark chocolate and coffee are common.
Pair with: Char-grilled lamb, meatballs and chickpea tagine.
Start exploring these exciting reds today!