The Beauty of Lighter-Bodied Reds

Credit: Sammy Hawker

While many of us are quick to reach for a cold glass of riesling, chardonnay or rosé during the warmer months, a delicious, slightly chilled light-bodied red can be a breath of fresh air on a balmy late summer evening.

Our proximity to regions such as Tumbarumba and Hilltops provides us a bounty of alternative varieties – like pinot meunier and grenache – which lend themselves beautifully to certain winemaking techniques. The resulting wines are elegant and sophisticated, with a savoury, spicy mid-palate, and very fine, layered tannins. 

Credit: Sammy Hawker

The Landfall Pinot Meunier 2022, for instance, is an excellent option for enjoying with all kinds of spice-driven cuisine, such as South-East Asian, and Middle Eastern – but will equally stand on its own at the right temperature.

“The original idea with this wine was to celebrate the ‘nouveau’ aspect: release it shortly after vintage, and for people to consume it within the first year,” says Alex McKay. “But it’s proven itself much more than that. It’s a lovely wine with complexity, intensity and length. It isn’t super dense, either – when you pour it into the glass it’s not opaque.”

“I feel confident that people who have come to know the style will enjoy it.”

Sourced from the famed Courabyra vineyard in Tumbarumba, which was mostly originally designated for sparkling wine, we are very fortunate to get our hands on this pristine, complex pinot meunier fruit.

“We make it in a particular way,” says Alex. “Open fermentation, with around 30% whole bunches. We’re looking for stalks, and stalk tannins. Then we put it into reasonably new oak for just three or four months, before it’s bottled, to capture the freshness.”

Despite that breeziness though, there’s also complexity.

“This isn’t a bright, juicy, jubey thing though – there’s a savoury mid-palate, so it has spice, as well as the carbonic layer over the top. It’s quite a complex nouveau style.”

Similarly, the Nightwatch Grenache 2021, sourced from the Mullany family vineyard in Hilltops, offers incredible versatility in both context and food-pairing. With its red fruit and spice notes, succulent palate and thread of mouth-watering acidity, this is a red wine alternative that effectively meets the rosé and red wine drinkers halfway: the ultimate crowd pleaser.

“I wouldn’t serve these wines too warm – but not chilled, either,” explains Alex. “I think the herbaceousness we get with ‘bunchy’ wines is accentuated when the wine’s too cold.”

“Around 15-18 degrees is about right. These wines handle spices really well – things like South-East Asian, Chinese; even Middle Eastern.”

Be sure to get the serving temperature right and it’ll be a match made in heaven.