Victoria, Australia, $20
This French-American joint venture combines Michel Chapoutier, a legend in the northern Rhone Valley, with Anthony Terlato, the U.S. importer who made Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio a sensation in this country. The result is an Australian Cote Rotie, a compelling combination of earth, fruit and spice. Those of us who bemoan the globalization of wine should celebrate this example of international cooperation. Alcohol: 14 percent.
Bacchus: Available in the District at Burka’s Wine & Liquor, Calvert Woodley, Lion’s Fine Wine & Spirits, Pearson’s, Rodman’s; on the list at the Coupe, Old Ebbitt Grill. Available in Maryland at Columbia Palace Wine & Spirits in Columbia; Edgewater Liquors; Finewine.com in Gaithersburg; Harborview Liquors, Quarry Wine & Spirits and Wine Source in Baltimore; McHenry Beverage Shoppe. On the list at Red Maple in Baltimore.
Alpha Box & Dice Mistress 2009
McLaren Vale, Australia, $40
This is a fascinating blend of two Portuguese varieties: touriga nacional, one of the main grapes in port and the fine red wines of the Douro Valley, and tinta negra molle, a grape more common to Madeira. Add a judicious splash of cabernet sauvignon and you have a blend that defies convention. Winemaker Justin Lane explains that the Portuguese varieties were common in Australia for fortified wines before the modern desire for table wines spurred growers to change most vineyards over to syrah (shiraz) and cabernet sauvignon. Alcohol: 14 percent.
Vine Street Imports/Lanterna in the District and Maryland; J.W. Sieg in Virginia: Available in the District at Schneider’s of Capitol Hill. Available in Virginia in mid-March.
Dandelion Vineyards Lion’s Tooth of McLaren Vale Shiraz-Riesling 2009
McLaren Vale, Australia, $25
Whoa. This wine seemed a bit awkward at first, which could be attributed to the screwcap. (Many wineries are still figuring out how to adjust sulfur additions to avoid problems with screwcaps.) Decant it for a half hour, however, and you have a rich, spicy, racy wine brimming with blackcurrant and blackberry fruit, eucalyptus and mint. Fermenting the shiraz on the pressed skins of Riesling grapes gives the wine an enticing, irresistible lure. Alcohol: 14 percent.
Vine Street Imports/Lanterna in the District and Maryland; J.W. Sieg in Virginia: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Schneider’s of Capitol Hill. Available in Virginia at Downtown Wine & Gourmet in Harrisonburg, D’Vine Wines in Winchester, Grape + Bean in Alexandria; Unwined (Alexandria, Belleview).
Pyren Vineyard Broken Quartz Shiraz 2010
Pyrenees, Australia, $20
Here’s a terrific example of the type of Australian shiraz that made me fall in love with this type of wine in my early explorations. It is rich with black fruit, herbal with mint and eucalyptus, and sweet with ripe, jammy flavors and texture. Alcohol: 13.6 percent.
Vine Street Imports/Lanterna in the District and Maryland, J.W. Sieg in Virginia: Available in the District at Schneider’s of Capitol Hill. Available in Virginia in mid-March.
Heartland Stickleback Red 2009
South Australia, $13
A delightful blend of cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and the Italian varietals dolcetto and lagrein, this is made by famed Aussie winemaker Ben Glaetzer. There’s tradition here, in a hint of tobacco flavor that calms the more familiar Australian enthusiasm. Alcohol: 14.5 percent.
M Touton Selection: Available in the District at AB Liquors, Best in Liquors, Capital City Wine & Spirits, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, MacArthur Beverages, Wagner’s Liquor. Available in Maryland at Village Liquors of Clarksville; Cork ’n Bottle Liquor in Laurel; Dogwood Liquor in Windsor Mill; Fairgrounds Discount Beverages and Swirl Wine in Timonium; Jason’s Wine & Spirits and Olde Tyme Liquors in Ellicott City; Lyndwood Square Wine and Spirits in Elkridge; Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; Old Line Fine Wine, Spirits & Bistro in Beltsville; Wine Source in Baltimore; World Gourmet Wine & Beer in Potomac.