Sunday, 4 December 2011

A+ Wine Day, The Red Wines

This is just to finish off things with regard to last week's tasting at Australia House with my pick of the reds.

Flight 6: Pinot Noir (6)
I picked the Yarra Valley Innocent Bystander 2010 from this bunch. Not necessarily because it was the best wine, but because I thought that at £12.99 (on the list, through a search it's £11.95 from Wine Direct) it was really keenly priced. It's full of exuberant fruit as you might expect, bursting with cherry and strawberry, but with an underlying spicy complexity that marks it out as a more serious wine. Most of the rest in the flight were £20+, which puts them into the realms of some pretty serious Burgundian/Central Otagan wines, and I didn't think they represented that good value for money. Certainly if you like the your Pinot on the pongy side, only one, the De Bortoli 'Reserve Release' 2006 fitted the bill.

Flight 7: Shiraz (8)
The best of the Shiraz flight was indicative of a shift in focus for Australia's signature grape. the First Drop 'Mother's Milk' Barossa 2009 as made from fruit selected fruit from two vineyard areas at different altitudes, resulting in a delightfully aromatic complexity with really fresh fruit flavours. Lacy Tannins create a pleasant texture, with a touch of spice and absolutely no hard edges. £16 from Harvey Nichols. This would make a great wine for the Christmas dinner table. There's enough fruit for it to be a crowd-pleaser but it's not too aggressive - and definitely not from Old School Barossa wine making.

Flight 8: Shiraz blends (3)
For me the Turkey Flat 'Butchers Block' Shiraz Grenache MourvĂ©dre 2009 Barossa Valley showed the sweetness of the Grenache well, nicely balancing with the alcohol. The MourvĂ©dre provided a certain earthiness. A well-thought out use of different fruit and considerate blending. (£10.95 from Formulawine).
For all the talk on the day of the wine revolution taking place in Australia, it was interesting that this was one of the wines which seemed to reflect the terroir the most - remains to be seen if the quest for 'regionality' results in less of a focus on single-variety wines.

Flight 9: Cabernet Sauvignon (6)
I agreed with Tim Atkin and Nick Stock on this one, the Hollick Coonawarra 2009 is a superb wine, and a bargain at £16.65 from Slurp. This is what modern Australia can do best, power with elegance, and nothing overdone - plenty of fresh blackcurrant fruit as you might expect, but without the sometimes overpowering eucalyptus leafiness that can be off-putting at times, and with silky smooth ripe tannins.

Flight 10: Fortified Wine (4)
OK, not red wines but worth a mention was the powerfully spicy, dried fruit Rutherglen Muscat from Stanton & Killeen - £12.40 from Slurp. Having said that if you're into sticky sweet dessert wines this style is well worth a try in whatever form you find it - treat yourself!

Tim Atkin summed up by saying he was more optimistic than he had ever been about Australian wine. Some of these wines are definitely at the forefront of disproving some of the old Aussie wine myths - and most enjoyable for it.

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