Author mug By The Glass

By Chuck Furuya

Very ripe fruit
pays off for
Aussie wines

Australian wines are hotter than hot right now, from the inexpensive Yellow Tail to the legendary Grange from Penfold's.

What's the big deal?

The wines offer very, very ripe fruit, making them deep, round, rich and wonderfully supple. Many top Australian reds have taken the style that Silver Oak and others have made so popular to a whole 'nother level!

Consequently, Robert Parker of the Wine Spectator and other critics are giving these wines meteoric scores and headline publicity.

Yes, they are hotter than hot.

Some of the very best Australian winemakers and winery owners will be coming to Hawaii Oct. 8 to 12 for the Food and Wine Festival at the Kahala Mandarin Oriental (for information call 738-8888).

Among them: Tom Adams of Brothers in Arms, Robin and Heather Moody of Cape D' Estaing, Wayne Dutschke of Dutschke, Kim and Mark Longbottom of Henry's Drive/Parsons Flat, Colin Kay of Kay Brothers, Robert and Pasquale Fiumara of Lillypilly, Sarah Marquis of Marquis Philips/Shirvington, David Hickinbotham of Paringa and Trevor Jones of Trevor Jones.

To whet your palate, here are some wines you could go out and try in the meantime:

2002 Chardonnay Trevor Jones "The Virgin": This is one of the top chardonnays from the Land Down Under. Un-wooded, rich, surprisingly full on the palate and VERY well-textured, this wine is really to beat, especially at roughly $20 a bottle.

2002 "Holly's Blend," Marquis Philips: Now here is a very interesting white wine. The grape is verdelho. Crafted by Sparky and Sarah Marquis. Again, you have a wine that is surprisingly rich on the palate. The 2002 is very tasty with a whole lot of subtle starfruit and pear nuances and terrific texture and balance for such a ripe wine. For under $11 a bottle, you really cannot go wrong.

2002 Shiraz, Paringa: Pay attention those of you looking for Napa Valley cabernet-like wines at bargain prices. At less than $11 a bottle, this Shiraz is such a terrific value, you should get some while you can.

1999 Shiraz, Dutschke "St. Jakobi": Here is a trophy shiraz -- huge, deep and layered -- certainly one of the all-stars. The 1999 has had a chance to harmonize a bit in the bottle and is drinking very nicely right now. This one will run you about $40 a bottle.

Chuck Furuya is Hawaii's only master sommelier.

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