We all know how good it feels to cosy up with a hearty red in cooler months, that summer abounds with cold, thirst-crushing opportunities and spring is all about young and fresh drinks. But autumn is when drinking can get the most interesting. Produce shifts into more savoury vegetables such as brussels sprouts and artichokes, and of course we’re gifted the earthy comfort of field, pine and slippery jack mushrooms. Game meats such as venison, kangaroo and duck seem apt, and the slow cooker gets dusted off for the first dishes of the season. It’s the period when textural whites, orange wines, medium-bodied reds and wild-ferment ciders and beers hit their high notes. With all that in mind, here’s a collection to see you through the coming months.
1. Sorrenberg gamay 2017, Beechworth, VIC – A biodynamic-farming family produces this medium-bodied red wine, which shows a little richness. Think dark cherries, sweet earthiness and exotic spice delivered in a svelte, seamless, velvety flow of moreish red wine. Get your fancy wine glasses out.
2. Sailor’s Grave Brewing Southern Right Ale, Gippsland, VIC – The malty goodness of this beer works such a treat. Nutty, earthy, gently sweet, then finishing refreshingly bitter-dry, it’s a beer that dials up flavour but is still session-able. Try it with duck ragu pasta.
3. Trutta rosé 2018, Heathcote, VIC – Rosé is all about good times writ large. This wine delivers that, but with a bit more attitude. There’s high drinkability and a Campari kind of vibe, with that ultra-pleasing bitterness following the cherry juice that precedes.
4. Brave New Wine Andiamo! 2018, Great Southern, WA – This vermentino is one of the best Australian skin-contact wines (whites made without first removing the grape skins) I’ve had, offering succulent, powdery texture and an explosive perfume of green melon, jasmine and sage. Lemon-pith flavours emerge, and the wine goes tart and tangy, refreshing and generally darn satisfying.
5. Mallaluka syrah 2017, Canberra District, NSW – This is a pitch-perfect medium-bodied syrah (shiraz), a svelte, spicy number that has me in mind of braises and stews. A big shake of the black-pepper mill over forest berries is the idea, and that peppery character could work like a final seasoning for any dish that needs a little hand.
6. Uni Wines white pét-nat 2018, Wagga Wagga, NSW – Pét-nats are typically the vivacious, fun-lovin’, party-starting fizzy wines that get blasted into your glass all through the summery times. But this one, a new release from Charles Sturt University’s winemaking team, packs in a bit more funk and froth, more depth and a touch of extra flavour.
7. Lobo Norman cider, Adelaide Hills, SA – Warwick Billings is a legend in the Australian cider scene and produces outstanding brews from Adelaide Hills fruit. This one is made from mostly traditional cider-apple varieties, including Kingston Black, Dabinett and Yarlington Mill. It feels farmhouse style with its ultra-dry, pleasingly sour profile and works brilliantly with Quicke’s cheddar.
Mike Bennie is a wine and drinks journalist, presenter and co-owner of Sydney’s P&V Wine + Liquor Merchants.