There hasn't been much newor thrilling in Australia for a while. Bottles over twenty bucks havepretty much stopped selling. Despite the fact that one of the largestand most exciting Australian portfolios more or less imploded, nobody hasreally stepped up to fill the vacuum. As I've mentioned before, theestablished brands that were selling well before the bubble are stillmoving nicely now, but outside of that core, there just isn't muchinterest in the category. Which all seems like a shame to me becauseI am still drawn to the area. I think Australia offers plenty ofpleasure, value, promise and an underreported level of variety. With all that in mind, checkout these four new picks from Gemtree Vineyards, an Australianproducer who has been around for a while, but is new to Binny'sshelves. Value is key here. This is all McLaren Vale, a region knownfor intensity. Also, Gemtree uses 100% biodynamic farming, if that'syour thing. These Gemtree wines roll out at Binny's stores thisafternoon:  

2010 Moonstone Savagnin

   The Moonstone is a patiopounder, and we still have plenty of summer left to appreciate it.Interesting story: savagninwas mislabeled in Australia as albarino for years. The mistake isunderstandable the similarity to the traditional Spanish white isnotable. The Moonstone has a pleasant, albarino-like lemon citrus andlightly floral nose. That leads to a nice wine full of white fruitcocktail and medium acidity, with the slightest metallic mineralityat the finish. It's quenching.

2009 Luna Roja Tempranillo

Another grape from Spaintransplanted into Australia, kinda. It doesn't happen often, but we haveseen tempranillo from Australia before. It usually isn't verysuccessful, and is often more expensive. On the nose, Luna Roja seems likesomething you might get from Spain: a little dust along withconcentrated cherry. It shows good weight on the palate, with lots offruit and not too much cut. The fruit is a bit stewy and the finishis a little herbal, putting this somewhere in the middleground. It'snot a ball of fruit, but also not super rustic like, say, Faustino from Rioja.

2009 Bloodstone Shiraz

   These last two are more ofwhat you'd expect from Australia, which is solid shiraz at a goodprice. First up, Bloodstone. The biggest word from my notes is"interesting." Rhubarb, grape jam and strawberry are rightup front on the nose. Seriously reminded me of a fruit rollup. But onthe palate, the Bloodstone is a lot more serious than the nosesuggests it will be. Sure, there's ripe red raspberry, but behindthat is great acidic focus and dry herbal notes. This is great forthe price.

2008 Uncut Shiraz

Finally, the Uncut Shiraz(mind out of the gutter it references gems in the rough). From the smelland the taste, I'd have guessed the price in the mid-twenties, but itactually falls into the mid-teens. The nose is dark and concentrated,with heavy raspberry syrup. It's almost too closed, too concentrated.Cherry syrup on the palate, plus baking spice notes like cedar andvanilla. Vicerally thick, unabashedly ripe. Following the greattexture comes tannin to firm things up. Less wood notes, and morecrazy extracted fruit. My notes include the word "awesome"and also "rad." You should know that wetried a few other wines from Gemtree that Binny's won't becarrying. In fact, we are presented tons of wines that never make itto the shelf for whatever reason. I asked the buyer why these fourwere right for Binny's, especially considering the climate inAustralian wine right now. He told me that it is time for customersto take a fresh look at Australia. He thinks people will return tothe category at some point, and we should offer great choices all the time. What he is unsure of is whether people willbe looking for the big, overextracted, high-alcohol, jammy wines theyremember from the area, or if they'll realize that Australia offers awide range of styles. I guess it's up to you.