13 of the best red wines to be drinking this winter

After the recent announcement that an Australian wine had been named World's Best Cabernet at the in France (Taylors, with their 2014 "The Visionary" Cab Sav), it is clearer than ever that Australian winemakers are beating Old Europe at its own game.

In fact, Australian wines have been awarded the trophy in three of the past four years. Australian growing conditions are obviously ideal for Cabernet and Shiraz, and as we settle in to winter, these varietals become the go-to cold-weather reds for a lot of Aussie drinkers.

But local winemakers are also doing amazing things with many other classic European red varietals, which have been slower to gain ground in public awareness. Instead of an imported Bordeaux or Barossa Shiraz, why not go for one of these more adventurous Australian winter reds next time you're at your local wine store.

Tempranillo

This Spanish grape variety has recently outstripped all other varieties in terms of worldwide increases in plantings, and has become a highly popular wine throughout the world.

In Australia, most Tempranillo plantings are fairly new, and because it is a versatile variety, lots of Australian grape growers are trying it out, with mixed results. Regions to look for include Margaret River, McLaren Vale, Beechworth, Adelaide Hills, and Heathcote.

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Ask your local wine-seller for an aged style that will deliver delicious wintery characters of leather and spice.

Two to try

Jericho Tempranillo, 2017, Adelaide Hills.

Mayford Tempranillo, 2016, Alpine Valleys, Vic.

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Montepulciano

Montepulciano is an Italian variety from the Abruzzo region that has skyrocketed in Australia over the past decade in terms of planting and production.

This luscious Italian red makes perfect winter drinking, though it's best to ask for a warmer climate 'Monte', as it is also sometimes made in a lighter, cool-climate style here. South Australia is the region to go for when choosing Australian-grown Montepulciano. Expect a rich, dark red with well-balanced fruit and tannin structure and notes of black plum and tar.

Two to try

First Drop 'Minchia' Montepulciano, 2012, Adelaide Hills.

Big Easy Radio Montepulciano Sangiovese, 2016, McLaren Vale.

Touriga Nacional

​Touriga Nacional is a Portuguese native variety that is traditionally used in the production of Port. As you would imagine, it produces big, full-bodied, tannic wines that can withstand decades of ageing.

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Australian wine guru Steve Pannell has been at the forefront of Touriga production in Australia over the past few years, and his current range includes a Grenache, Shiraz, Touriga blend and a Tempranillo Touriga, which he says is his best yet. McLaren Vale is where it's at in terms of Australian Touriga.

This is a varietal that is sure to grow in popularity in Australia over the next ten years, considering our love of big, powerful reds.

Two to try

S.C. Pannell Tempranillo Touriga, 2016, McLaren Vale.

Three Dark Horses Grenache Touriga, 2017, McLaren Vale.

Grenache

Of course, Grenache is an established variety in Australia, but has too long been used as a blending wine only, typically with Shiraz. Recently, though, Australian wine makers have started producing some top quality single variety Grenache, primarily in the South Australian regions of Barossa and McLaren Vale, which are definitely the ones to go for in the winter months.

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The fact that Grenache has been grown here for decades already means the vines are older than many of the other varieties listed here, and likely to produce more complex wines.

Grenache is fine-textured in terms of tannin structure, and low in acid, with notes of cherry and white pepper. Old-vine Grenache is a great choice when looking for an interesting premium red for winter.

Two to try

Head 'Ancestor Vine' Grenache, 2015, Springton, Eden Valley.

Yangarra 'High Sands' Grenache, 2014, McLaren Vale.

Nero D'Avola

A Sicilian variety that also thrives in the hot and dry areas of Australia. This wine is typically medium-bodied and can be made in a range of styles, so for winter, ask your local seller for a bigger version, most likely grown in the region of McLaren Vale.

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Expect a balance of red fruits, floral and herbaceous notes, with higher acid than many of the other wines listed here. 'Nero' is a tenacious variety, and is likely to become more familiar in Australia as temperatures increase over the next decades.

Two to try

Unico Zelo Nero D'Avola, 2017, Adelaide Hills.

Brash Higgins 'NDV' Amphora Project Nero D'Avola, 2016, McLaren Vale.

Nebbiolo

For those who would usually reach for the Pinot Noir, a top Australian-grown Nebbiolo is a brilliant choice for winter. In Italy, it is grown in the hilly Northwestern region of Piedmont, and here primarily in Mornington, King and Clare Valleys, and the Adelaide Hills.

With a gorgeous light colour but serious tannin-structure, Nebbiolo has a unique flavour profile typically featuring notes of blackcurrant, tar, leather and violets. Aussie Nebbiolo tends to be fuller-bodied than its Italian-grown counterparts, making it more winter-friendly.

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Two to try

Fletcher 'Minion' Nebbiolo, 2016, Yarra Valley, King Valley & Pyrenees.

Vinea Marson Nebbiolo, 2012, Heathcote.

Check out the gallery above to see some quality reds to try this winter.