Some good friends of ours have an Australian Day tradition of hosting a long wine lunch. This year 12 guests were asked to bring one of their favourite bottles. Each wine is served blind, and the owner of the wine is invited to ask a series of questions to see if anyone can identify it correctly. (It’s great fun and often the answers are all over the place!)
Most of the guests thought the magnum of Cofield Durif 2007 was an Australian cool climate shiraz, which probably came from Victoria or the Canberra District. But its strong peppery bouquet and full fruit flavours delivered in a medium body enlivened by clean yet silky tannins were in fact the hallmarks of a beautifully aged, eight year old durif from Victoria’s Rutherglen.
Durif holds a special place in the hearts of Rutherglen winemakers. It was successfully introduced to the region by viticulturalist Francois de Casella in 1908, who was looking for a suitable variety to revitalise the district’s vineyards after a devastating phylloxera outbreak.
Durif was originally cultivated in the South of France by botanist Francois Durif in the 1880s. It never really took hold in France, but today it’s also popular in the US where it’s called petite sirah.
The Rutherglen terroir has proven ideal for growing durif, which needs a relatively long and dry growing season to ripen properly. It is also a variety best suited to small scale production, as it demands a high level of vineyard attention to bring out its best.
Family owned producers like Cofield, Stanton & Killeen and Campbells all make fine table wines from durif, and the variety is a key component in the region’s acclaimed vintage and tawny style fortified wines.
Because of its massive colour and concentration, young durif wine is often compared to Piedmonte’s nebbiolo. Like nebbiolo, the wines are ideally suited for long-term cellaring, as ageing allows the tannins to mellow over time. Most of the Rutherglen producers also make lighter representations of the style,.. [Read More]