So, what’s all this fuss about ‘cool climate’ wine and why is it a big deal? The (very) short of it is that, in theory, grapes that grow in cooler locations take a longer period of time to develop compared to grapes from warmer regions. And this often means that the grapes have time to develop more concentrated and complex characteristics. The downside of this though is that, in occasional vintages, the grapes may struggle to ripen correctly and therefore may seem a little more acidic and stringent over the more fruity and jammy style warmer climate wines.
When done well, cool climate wines have an elegance and finesse about them with subtly complex aromas and flavours that make them food friendly wines and a delight for the wine lover. Another reason for the emphasis on cool climate wines is as a buffer against climate change. I haven’t met a climate change denying vigneron yet through my wine travels around the globe.
New South Wales (NSW) has a reputation for producing wine from some of the warmer wine regions in Australia, for example, The Hunter Valley, Mudgee and the vast Riverina. The thing is, NSW, with its Great Dividing Range, actually boasts some of Australia’s coldest wine regions, including Orange, Tumbarumba, Hilltops and Canberra. There’s a lot of fine wine coming out of these regions at the moment.
McWilliam’s Wines is a sixth generation Australian wine family with Samuel McWilliam first planting vines in 1877 and with J.J. McWilliam pioneering the Riverina wine industry in 1913. In 2010, the Wine & Spirits survey named McWilliam’s Hanwood Estate as the number one Australian wine brand in restaurants across the United States of America.
The Hanwood Estate is a popular ‘go-to’ and ‘drink now’ Aussie wine range across the globe. It’s great value and a well made example of the warm climate wines from the Riverina region of NSW. But these are not cool climate wines. To add some cool climate finesse, McWilliam’s have developed several ranges of cool climate wines from grapes sourced out of the vineyards of the cooler wine regions of NSW.
Cool Climate range (RRP AU$16). There’s four different bottles in this range. These are the Sauvignon Blanc, a blend of fruit from Hilltops and Orange; the Chardonnay, a blend of Hilltops and Gundagai fruit; the Shiraz, another blend from Hilltops and Gundagai; and the Cabernet Sauvignon, also a blend from Hilltops and Gundagai. These wines have been rated well and have received several competition medals with the 2013 Shiraz picking up a trophy and the China Wine and Spirits Awards 2016.
High Altitude range (RRP AU$19). There’s two bottles in this range – the aromatic and herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc from Orange and the spicy and toasty Shiraz from Hilltops.
Appellation range (RRP AU$25). This is McWilliam’s Wines most extensive cool climate range with seven bottles. These are the Orange Sauvignon Blanc, the Tumbarumba Chardonnay, the Tumbarumba Pinot Noir, the Canberra Syrah, the Hilltops Shiraz, the Hilltops Cabernet Sauvignon and the Tumbarumba Pinot Noir Chardonnay NV. These wines have been rated well by critics and have achieved several awards, medals and trophies.
The Flagship 1877 Hilltops Shiraz (RRP AU$80) and the Flagship 842 Tumbarumba Chardonnay (RRP AU$70) are also award winning cool climate wines from NSW.
McWilliam’s have a real focus on crafting wine from the cool climate wine regions of NSW and it was a real pleasure working my way through these wines. For the price, they offer a really good insight into the type and style of wine that can be produced from the cooler wine regions of NSW. If you haven’t tried much cool climate Aussie wine before then now is the time!
Disclosure: The Wine Wankers are working in partnership with McWilliams Wines to promote their wine across our various social channels. Please see our promotions policy.