Is ‘bigger better’? It’s a question that keeps on appearing. When we enjoy something, most of us want another helping so we can enjoy it more. And with wine, it’s a common pathway we take. If it’s flavoursome, we want more flavour. If it’s rich, we want more richness. But there’s a limit to wanting and getting more before a wine is too big and in fact excessive. So where do you draw the line? One person’s elegant is another person’s weak and light. Smaller size does mean greater finesse is possible. But a big wine will deliver generosity that a lighter and weaker wine will never provide. People draw the line at different stages, and it is thus pretty personal.
For me, the line is usually not set in stone, and in fact can move, often after just a sip. Jol-Vino served a dark red from a carafe. It smelt ant tasted ripe and sweet. Fully ripened fruit. In fact overly ripened fruit, with plum, prune an raisin notes to the sweet liquorice and spice notes. Some wines speak Shiraz, with their flavours, and this was super Shiraz, pushed too far. Nice tannins, but the sweetness built up and surpassed the comfort threshold. Flavours lingered, but they got more cloying. And the warmth turned to alcohol heat. This had not finesse to me, yet I could see myself enjoying it more in another time and place. Maybe with barbecued and hearty fare. On a very cold night of course. I’m sure the makers of the 2009 Brown Brothers Milawa Vineyard ‘Limited Edition’ Heathcote Syrah didn’t want to make a wine that was excessive, but more a statement. It was labelled a ‘Syrah’ representing something more elegant than Shiraz. However, it went over the line for me. And it came in a magnum.