Following on from last month’s focus on other reds and Shiraz, this May I’m all about red blends.
It’s always frustrating that we seem so singularly focused on mon-varietal wines in Australia, as it often makes for less interesting drinks. So often I’ve tasted a flabby Shiraz and wondered how much tastier it would be with a dollop of Cabernet. Or a Mataro that is gruff and hard, aching for a little juicy Grenache vibrancy. Blends are like spice – they add extra flavour layers.
The great wines of the world are often blends (Bordeaux, Rioja, Chianti et al) so the question always arises about why we stick to single varieties. Sadly, the conventional wisdom is still that blends don’t sell as well in Australia (with exceptions for varieties like Pinot) so perhaps we’re all to blame.
What do you think?
Meanwhile, here is a compilation of the better red blends to pass the desk this month.
Last week, I said that I’d try to post some tidbits from my time judging at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles in Beijing, China. Except I didn’t event get close. Long days and dodgy wifi meant that I posted nothing.
But now I’m back, and the photos tell a tale themselves… (more…)
Following on from my Cabernet compilation on Monday, let me introduce you to the Shiraz/Syrah selection.
Twenty of the better Shiraz to pass the desk in April, all in one handy place.
I particularly like the diversity in this lineup – Hawke’s Bay to Crozes-Hermitage and more. It’s not truly representative (there’s an awful lot of Syrah and Shiraz out there) but a few shades covered here.
As close followers would have noticed, I’ve been on a mission this month, trying to get the sample pile back into shape.
Now we’re nearing the of April and I’m still behind, so it’s time to go next level. There’s still so much wine to get through, and my spare room is overflowing…
To be honest, the notes that end up on sit here are a smidgen of what I’ve tasted this month. With my other hats on it’s not unusual to try 200+ wines a week, but it all starts to get messy (and unethical) to mix in reviews for things that I’m paid to taste.
Instead, what gets published on Australian Wine Review are wines that I get a closer look at (usually at home), rather than something I sighted for 2 minutes (in a bracket of 60 wines) on a retail ‘prospects’ tasting panel.
Here then is 15 of the better straight Cabernet Sauvignon wines that have passed the home bench this month:
That was the message I sent to my long-suffering partner Jacqui at 10am Saturday morning, just on 24hrs after this beer had been released. Oh yes, I was pumped to have a few cans of the latest cloudy IPA from our favourite local brewery in hand. It wasn’t quite Christmas, but I was eager.
And this Dream Weaver is another delicious release too. Maybe not quite as life-affirming as the Majestic Leopard before it, but it’s still a delight.
Classic Yarra Valley Cabernet. There’s a timelessness to this mode of red, even if it’s slightly uncool in the modern riper Cab world. Cassis, pencils shavings, a vegetal hint and backed by a curranty punch. An understated and classy palate that sits on the edge of ‘just-right’ ripeness, though not for everyone. Fine tannins too. Maybe a little underweight? Will live and provide ‘luncheon claret’ drinking for years. Best drinking: Now to whenever. Will still be chugging along in 15 years time. 17.5/20, 91/100+. 13%, $39. Would I buy it? A glass or two.
Gently spicy, understated Yarra Shiraz with delicacy and lovely juicy fruit. It’s richer than the 13% alcohol suggests, fractionally lifted up by oak sweetness, but with a palate that beautifully balances out freshness and black jelly bean flavour. Cool, calm, perhaps a little light on, but delicious and perfectly poised. Worth a look. Best drinking: Now to ten years easy, with the low alcohol style sure to live and live. 17.7/20, 92/100. 13%, $28. Would I buy it? This is a very likeable wine. I’d buy.