WHEN Spanish winemaker Freixenet decided to look seriously at the Australian market and invested in the purchase of a mixed fruit farm on Victoria's Murray River, it wasted no time in using the vineyards there to put out a couple of 2012 sparkling wines under its already internationally-recognised Azahara label.
Both were an instant success, and Freixenet has now followed-up with a non-fizz Azahara Pinot Grigio and also a Shiraz, with winemaker Dr Phil Spillman delighted at their reflection of the character of the Victorian property's orange groves (Azahara in fact is Spanish for orange blossom,) together with the avocado and mango plantations that are criss-crossed by the vineyard blocks.
"We're serious about having a good go at making something really special here," a proud Dr Spillman says. "Wines in a style befitting the Spanish dining and entertaining experience, whilst still staying true to the qualities naturally expressed by the Australian farm."
The 2013 Azahara Pinot Grigio has certainly reflected that aim, with a wonderful palate of crunchy apples, fresh lemon and spiced pears, and a creamy mouth feel. Add some nice acidity and at $15 this makes a marvellous drop with Mediterranean-style salads, and seafoods like salt 'n pepper squid or barbecued white fish fillets.
ONE TO NOTE: ANOTHER rewarding vino from Victoria is a 2010 Shiraz from hand-harvested, low-cropped fruit off Toolangi Vineyard's Dixon's Creek in the Yarra Valley.
The nutmeg, violets and varietal Shiraz peppery-spice aromas, highlighted from the inclusion of twenty per cent whole bunches in the ferment, are reflected nicely on the palate with complimentary fine-grain tannins and a light acidity. With just 1,400 cases made, and at $20 a bottle, this is a quite lovely medium-bodied drop that goes well with rare eye fillet of beef, roast duck – or our favourite with this style of Shiraz, a freely herb-sprinkled roast leg of lamb.
 ENJOY Mediterranean-inspired seafoods with this Aussie drop's taste of Spain.
 A FAVOURITE with this style of Shiraz is a freely herb-sprinkled roast leg of lamb.