Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sullen Beauty

The Roe-Runner gave SWMBO as bottle several months ago, just as the warmer weather was kicking in.  We knew it wasn’t the ideal time to broach it, even though we were instructed to enjoy it as soon as we could.  The autumn is upon us and he had a love hearty meal with flavoursome meatballs on the menu, and the food cried out for something warming and rich.

It’s very unfashionable to say you enjoy the ‘traditional’ sweet and soft Aussie Shiraz wines in certain circles nowadays, especially as the Australian industry is favouring and rewarding the Rhone style wines that the word “Syrah” signifies.  To be fair, the Syrah-styled wines with their elegance and freshness are very drinkable.  But there’s a big move in drinkers eschewing the broader, weightier, riper styles, and it’s a pity that people’s backs are turning what the country has had a fantastic and proven history at doing well and unlike any other country.  There’s a time and place for it all, and cooler seasons and hearty, meaty fare is ideal for Aussie Shiraz as we used to know it.

The 2004 Beresford McLaren Vale Shiraz fitted the bill perfectly.  Dark, very soft anf mature, with beautifully interwoven aromas and flavours, this was dense with ripe black pepper and plums, cedar and eucalypt, and raisins, spices and everything nice.  Smooth as velvet, but with real push and substance too.  It didn’t have the lifted and piquant florals, nor the fresh and lacy acid linearity.  Instead, it was a sullen wine in those terms, but one with beauty nevertheless.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tough Love

 My past caught up with me when Kobsta and Mobsta brought some bottles that apparently I had recommended in a past life.  I had enjoyed them and thought I’d share the love about them so Kobsta and Mobsta bought them for their collection.  They were full of trepidation about their drinkability, and worried if the wines would be good contributions to dinner.  In retrospect, I should have been the one with trepidation, as I was responsible for them buying the wines in the first place.  It is tough when your past can come back to haunt you.

After a few other bottles that did a very good job, we opened the older ones.  The 2005 Chapoutier ‘Belleruche’ Cotes du Rhone, I remember seemed to be a bit of a star in its early days, punching above its weight.  Being mainly Grenache and a really good value buy, it sure wasn’t designed for a long time of cellaring, and meant for immediacy, and maybe 3-4 years at the max.  This was now over 7 years old.  Still dark, meaning Syrah and Mourvedre?  Savoury dark fruits with herbs and earth.  Plenty of mouthfeel and body.  This was certainly no faded rose.  If anything, the tannins were too much, the fruit drying a little now.  A toughness and chewiness.  Heartier food, especially a big piece of steal or lamb casserole would help it be loved.  I think I got out of jail.

Then a 1998 Cloudy Bay Marlborough Pinot Noir.  A hot year, giving it extra ripeness and power.  This is what has kept it going well.  Dark fruits, and a little bramble and savoury meat and earth hinted.  A sleekness, being the varietal character.  But this too had robustness, no doubt from the vintage, and a tad of fruit sweetness disappearing.  The warm and dry year imbued the wine with a bit of toughness, which has preserved it pretty well.  The men who made it sure put their love into it.  It delivered more than expected too. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013


It is incredible how one wine can be so divisive.  There we were at the A-Prentices and we joined The Prince for a glass or two of wine.  The Prince had his team with him, and they had been supping a few wines to start with.  One of the themes that they went down was 2008 Pinot Noir, so if anything, these fellows would have had a good perspective and setting to make a good judgement on the 2008 Ata Rangi Martinborough Pinot Noir we added to the mix.  Their bottles included the likes of a Dujac premier cru red burgundy, a By Farr Geelong Auusie Pinot, and the likes of Craggy Range ‘Aroha’ and one of the Escarpment ‘Insight’ Pinots.

On pouring, immediately there was an expression of disappointment.  Head shaking, noses screwed up and mutterings under their breath.  Comments included “out of condition”, “dull fruit”, “unbalanced” and “not going anywhere”.  These words from people whose opinions matter.  Then there was the minority camp.  “Bright and juicy, succulent fruit”, “still primary”, “layers of flavour” and “beautifully structured”.  Of course SWMBO, The Prince and I were in this group.  Our faces had smiles and our eyes were bright.
Maybe we were influenced by our history – it was after all, our bottle, and we were proud of bringing it, therefore it had to be good.  We weren’t influenced by what the others had before.  Maybe they were being too critical?  Maybe they went down the wrong path?  Eventually we moved on and agreed to disagree, even though they were wrong.