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FROM OZ Wines for every palate
FROM OZ Wines for every palate

A recent wine and cheese evening threw the spotlight on Australian wines reminiscent of everything from scowling thugs to fairytales

“If you don’t mind a little friendly domination, then give yourself over to Vitulus.” Just perfect for those quiet evenings as you listen to Bach and need a little something to slap you all over the room, really.

Apparently, with its “deep mint and eucalyptus notes (which) puncture the freshly picked blackcurrant fruit”, the Rechke Vitulus Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia has a “fabulous and forceful nature that rather manhandles the drinker and shows the way,” according to wine writer Matthew Jukes. Clearly, this is not the kind of wine you want to bump into in a dark, dodgy alley. On the other hand, it behaves beautifully in a suitably-glamorous setting when paired appropriately. In this case, with creamy Apricot and Almond cheese.

Rechke and friends made their Chennai debut at a recent wine and cheese evening hosted by Aminur Rahman, the Australian Consul-General and Trade Commissioner for South India, and Dinaz Madhukar, General Manager of Taj Connemara.

The evening, which showcased an eclectic collection of Australian wines and cheeses, concentrated on introducing people to the unique characteristics of each wine. Set on long tables, with representatives from Wine Legends on hand to help explain the flavours, the ritual of wine tasting was demystified significantly. It helped that you could simultaneously graze on a rather funky collection of cheese from Lemnos Foods. One of the leading producers of feta and haloumi cheese in Australia, Lemnos makes interesting cheese blends. Such as the Black Forest, a surprising blend of velvety cheese and sweet fruit. Or, the melon and mango. Or, apricot and almond. And, if you prefer a touch of spice, there’s the jalapeno cheese set besides that old classic: garlic and chives.

The wine collection included the Rechke Vitulus Cabernet of course. Alluringly dark and dangerous, with a heady mix of dark chocolate and sweet blackcurrant flavours, it was rivalled only by the Echidna Greatnose Grenache/Shiraz, with its hints of “coffee and smoky bacon.” (Coffee and bacon? Finally! An excuse to drink wine for breakfast). Then, there was the Zonte’s Footsteps Shiraz/Viognier, an unusual blend of red and white grapes in which the red contributes richness and the white adds lightness and perfume.

Discussing how an increasing number of Indian consumers are opting for Australian wines, thanks to their quality, Rahman said that he expects the cheeses, recently launched in India, to be just as successful. Like the wine, Australian cheese, he added, had the advantage of being created in a country with a rich mix of nationalities and ethnicities, resulting in tremendous variety.

Not to mention glamour. Take ‘Gold’, a chardonnay-dominated brew with dancing gold flakes. With fresh notes of pine and spring flowers, this is like a drinkable version of a Christmas glitter globe — except you get showers of 24 carat gold instead of artificial snowflakes when you shake the bottle.

Wines reminiscent of everything from scowling thugs to fairytales. You’ve got to love Australia’s flair for drama.

SHONALI MUTHALALY

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