5 wines a top Australian sommelier says you should drink this winter

Matt Dunne is group sommelier Solotel, the restaurant and hospitality group co-owned by chef Matt Moran, which includes the Aria restaurants in Sydney and Brisbane, Opera Bar, Chiswick, North Bondi Fish and Riverbar & Kitchen, Brisbane.

Business Insider asked Dunne what he likes to drink when the weather turns cold, as well as suggestions on what foods to serve them with. He likes these wines so much he also put them on the Opera Bar wine list.

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When I think winter wine, I think comfort food and long lunches. I search for wines that are not only good drinks – but are even better with food. In my view food is always the hero and wine is there to heighten the experience. Here are my picks for this winter. A mix of some classic varieties with some up-and-coming styles, from the Opera Bar wine list.

The Opera Bar list is 75% Australian wines, and aims to showcase the diverse styles that local producers can offer, at approachable price points. It’s a snapshot of up-and-coming Aussie wine-makers, mixed with classics we all love. In essence, something for everyone, with wines listed by style. The wine flight is seasonal and will be on-going.

2015 Si Vitners Red Blend,
Margaret River, WA
Biodynamic, minimal sulphur – a wine that screams purity. Made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec.

I love what these guys are doing and for me this would be paired well with beef brisket with roasted potatoes and green beans.

2015 Ampel Pinot Noir
Tamar Valley, TAS
Pinot Noir as a category is going nuts in Sydney at the moment. This one from Ampel has a little more attitude than normal – it’s fruit forward but with plenty of seductive spice. I love the persistence and ethereal quality.

For winter this wine works really well with roasted chicken, Jerusalem artichoke and roman beans.

2013 A.Retief Red Field Blend
Hilltops NSW
Been to Alex Retief’s Urban Winery in St Peter’s yet? You should. This beauty is a blend of mataro, grenache, merlot, malbec and tempranillo from Mokhinui vineyard in Hilltops, New South Wales.

Tannins are grainy but fine so it’s a great match is Greek Lamb kebabs with yoghurt and lemon mint sauce. Pieces of lamb are marinated in garlic, oil, and red wine vinegar, then threaded on rosemary skewers and barbecued. A creamy, herby sauce of Greek yoghurt, fresh mint, oregano and parsley complement these kebabs nicely. This wine has excellent natural acidity and works in synergy with the fresh components in the dish.

2014 Knewitz Pinot Blanc
Rheinhessen, Germany
One of the highlights of our Solotel wine program is our range of exclusive imports. No one else in Australia has this wine. This is from young gun wine-maker Tobias Knewitz – it has lots of pulpy stone fruit but great drive and freshness.

We like this with grilled seafood for winter: BBQ Yamba king prawns with coleslaw and corn on the cob.

2015 Spring Seed ‘Organic Shiraz’ Rosé
McLaren Vale, SA
Australia’s rose revolution is not stopping in winter! Magnums offer great value for large groups and this number is full of dark red fruits and garden spices. 100% organically farmed shiraz and completely smashable on its own (and it’s dry) – but even better with a simple salad of roasted beetroot, farro, walnut, feta and parsley.

Fits the bill for lighter winter lunches and this Rosé offers great session drinking.

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