Sommelier’s guide to the best wines for Father’s Day

Living Well | Tianna Nadalin | Posted on 21 August 2019

Give your dad something to wine about this Father’s Day.

It’s that time of year again. The national day of dadmiration is almost upon us and, like always, there is no gift money can buy that will adequately demonstrate how much our old man means to us... At least, that’s what we tell ourselves at 9am on the first Sunday of September when we invariably end up pacing the aisles of the local liquor store because we had no idea what to get him.

If you can’t think of the ideal gift for the dad who has everything – wine is always the answer. Whether he’s a vinthusiast, French wine snob, occasional vine adventurer or just plain fussy, we caught up with RACV City Club sommelier Christian Maier to help you pick a bottle that’s sure to knock his socks off.

Man surrounded by people raising their glasses to him

How to pick the perfect bottle of wine for dad

What does he like to drink?

This might seem obvious, but when it comes to buying wine, past bottle behaviour is a pretty good indicator of future sip preferences. That doesn’t mean you can’t experiment with new or alternative options. RACV City Club sommelier and resident wine expert Christian Maier says if you want him to try something out of his vine comfort zone, the key is to choose something that is similar in style.

“There are two easy ways you can approach it,” Christian says. “You can get him a different variety from the same region, or you could get him the same variety from a different region.”

If your dad loves big, bold Barossa shiraz, for example, he might like to try one from Heathcote, in Victoria’s north. “This region is renowned for producing rich, full-bodied shiraz that is spicier and more savoury than its South Australian counterpart, but still has plenty of kick to it,” Christian says. “Or if you want to stick with the Barossa, you could go for something that is similar in style to shiraz, but different enough to pique his interest, such as a grenache or tempranillo. These still offer plenty of juicy fruit, but they also have enough body and spice to appeal to his bold side.”  

When do you want to drink it?

The next logical question to ask is whether you want to gift him a drink-now type of wine or something that could benefit from a little lie down. “Some wines are better than others for ageing,” Christian says. You want to look for wines that have good structure and complexity – but that also have enough freshness and fruitiness to hold up over time. If he likes his reds, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon that have seen some time in oak are generally a safe bet or, if he’s more of a white drinker, chardonnay and riesling. And if you feel like splurging – classics like barolo from Italy (made from the nebbiolo grape) and bordeaux from France (cabernet merlot blends) have excellent ageing potential.

What do you want to drink it with?

If you really want to impress your dad, matching a wine to his favourite meal is a surefire way to do it. Not only are you showing him that you’ve given the wine some thought, you’re also giving him an excuse to eat his favourite food. But when it comes to food and wine pairing, the old white-wine-with-white-meat and red-wine-with-red-meat rule is a little passè. These days, it’s all about what grows together, goes together. 

“If he loves Italian food, look for an Italian wine or grape variety,” Christian recommends. “For example, chianti, from Tuscany, is delicious with red-based pastas (hello, spaghetti bolognese) or cacciatore-style stews. If you’re wanting to keep it more local, go for a sangiovese (the grape used in chianti) – the King Valley is producing some fantastic examples.”

If fish and chips is more his style, you can’t go past a classic New Zealand sauvignon blanc or, if he’s more of a paella lover, a grenache-based bottle from Spain would go down a treat (for a local producer – there is lots of good stuff coming out of McLaren Vale). Doing the whole pancake breakfast thing? It’s never too early to pop the bubbly.

Seven bottles of wine

Christian’s top seven wines for dad

Michael Hall Flaxman’s Valley Syrah 2016

Michael Hall makes a number of wines in the Barossa, but this shiraz is from neighbouring Eden Valley, from one of the highest shiraz vineyards in South Australia (more than 500 metres above sea level). It has been my go-to wine for a while and never disappoints.

RRP $50

Bleasdale Double Take Malbec 2016

If you are over shiraz, it’s time to try malbec. Bleasdale, in Langhorne Creek, has been producing some for a while and has some of the oldest plantings in Australia. This South Australian beauty displays intense floral and dark-fruited aromas underpinned by firm tannins. It’s drinking beautifully now, but don’t be afraid to lie it down for 10 years.

RRP $69

Zuccardi Concreto Malbec 2016

Speaking of malbec, this purple-hued grape is the most important, not to mention prestigious, variety in Argentina. Zuccardi Concreto Malbec 2016 is from the super high-altitude Uco Valley. I had these wines when I was there and, when it comes to elegance, the cool climate of Uco delivers tonnes of it. Intense black fruit lingering on the savoury side with a frame of super fine, silky tannins.

RRP $62.90

Levantine Hill Estate Syrah 2015

When it comes to shiraz, this Victorian beauty is trading elegance above power and spices and savouriness above fruit ripeness. Levantine Hill shiraz from the Yarra Valley is fresh, complex and so impressive it was named the best red wine in Australia at the 2018 International Wine Challenge in London. Surely, 20 Masters of Wines must know what they are talking about!

RRP $80

Felton Road Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2016

Show your dad a softer side with a bottle of Felton Road Bannockburn Pinot Noir from New Zealand’s emerging Central Otago wine region. It combines sensuous power and structure with elegance and intricacy to deliver a spicy, savoury start that slowly gives way to an explosion of fruit.

RRP $75

Chateau la Conseillante Pomerol 2012

When only the best will do, look no further than Chateau la Conseillante Pomerol 2012. This stunning red blend (merlot and cabernet franc) from Bordeaux in France was rated 96 points by US wine critic Robert Parker and is still considered by many wine experts to be the stand-out wine of that vintage. A great addition to any wine cellar.

RRP $228

Quealy Musk Creek Pinot Gris 2018

If white wines are more his style, there’s no looking past this luscious little number from Victoria’s gris queen – Kathleen Quealy (ex T’Gallant) – who introduced the grape to the Mornington Peninsula back in the 90s (about the same time, she also released one of the first premium unwooded chardonnays in the country). Don’t be fooled by its pale hue – this is a powerful, richly textured wine with savoury, smoky characteristics and a lingering honey finish. Just make sure you have a plate of cheese ready to wash it down with.

RRP $30