Fox Creek Verdelho 2003
The Fox Creek story began when a small group of doctors and their wives decided to pursue a lifelong passion – creating wine from bare earth and sunshine. The earth was found at McLaren Vale, one of South Australia’s premier wine regions, globally renowned for its Shiraz. The sunshine was free.
Fox Creek’s flagship wine was the 1994 Shiraz, which won the Trophy for the best wine at the McLaren Vale Wine Show in 1995. Fox Creek has subsequently won this award in 1998 and 2003 and successive vintages of this wine, now called the Reserve Shiraz, have achieved international acclaim. As Fox Creek’s success continues, many of the wines have been recognised with trophies and medals from national and international shows. The range of wines made by Fox Creek has gradually increased to seventeen.
A large, climatically diverse country producing just about every wine style imaginable, Australia is not just a source of blockbuster Shiraz or inexpensive wine with cute labels, though both can certainly be found here. Australia has a grand winemaking history and some of the oldest vines on the planet, along with a huge range of landscapes and climates; it is impossible to make generalizations about Australian wine. Most regions are concentrated in the south of the country with those inland experiencing warm, dry weather, and those in more coastal areas receiving humid and tropical, or maritime weather patterns. Australia has for several decades been at the forefront of winemaking technology and has widely adopted the use of screwcaps, even for some premium and ultra-premium bottles.
Shiraz is indeed Australia’s most celebrated and widely planted variety, typically producing bold, supple reds with sweet, jammy fruit and performing best in the Barossa and Hunter Valleys. Cabernet Sauvignon is often blended with Shiraz, and also shines on its own particularly in Coonawarra and Margaret River. Grenache and Mourvèdre (often locally referred to as Mataro) are also popular, both on their own and alongside Shiraz in Rhône blends. Chardonnay is common throughout the country and made in a wide range of styles. Sauvignon Blanc has recently surged in popularity to compete with New Zealand’s distinctive version, and Semillon is often utilized as its blending partner, or in the Hunter Valley, on its own to make complex, age-worthy whites. Riesling thrives in the cool-climate Clare and Eden Valleys. Sticky-sweet fortified wine Rutherglen Muscat is a beloved regional specialty of Victoria. Thanks to the country’s relatively agreeable climate throughout and the openness of its people, experimentation is common and ongoing, and there are a vast array of intriguing varieties to be found.
A significant grape in Madeira but capable of making a delightful Portugese dry white as well, Verdelho wines have a bright acidity and lovely lemon, pineapple and apple fruit qualities. Verdelho is great as an aperitif wine and as a pairing with raw fish and oysters.
While many less expensive Madeira wines can be blends of different years or grapes, including Verdelho, single-varietal Madeira represent the highest quality versions that also have long aging capacities. Sercial, Boal, Malmsey and Verdelho are the best Madeira grapes. Of the four, Verdelho is the most concentrated and smoky. It is dry, intense, spicy and is flexible in food pairings. Try it with potato leek soup or lobster bisque.