Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Wine Blog Wednesday 30

How quickly they seem to come around. Only last week I was at the Australia day tastings down in London, where I managed to taste my way around some serious big Aussie shiraz from Hunter, Barossa, Alpine Valley in Victoria, Great Southern (Western Aus), Eden Valley, Limestone Coast, Langhorne Creek, Heathcote, Geelong and Mclaren. Most of it was fairly textbook stuff - big black peppery, dark stone fruity, monster tannins, BIG alcohol. A few of the better wines were more balanced and had a bit more complexity about them.

Brokenwoods Graveyard Shiraz for example had more restrained spicy tones, but dense black fruit flavours with fine oak influence and silkier tannins. It was also bottled under a screwcap which is quite a brave step for a wine that retails in excess of £50.

Gapsted wines based in the Alpine Valley of Victoria in Australia had a very interesting shiraz - the Ballerina Canopy Shiraz. The fruit comes from 200 hectares farmed near Whitfield in the King Valley. Low yields and the slightly cooler climate produce intensely flavoured fruit with rich fruitcake flavours and more subtle spicy tones. Two years in american oak adds a sterner tannic structure to the wine which balances nicely with the natural fruit sweetness. Its quite a big wine at 14.5%abv but theres balance so the alcohol doesnt burn.

Berton Family vineyards, based in the Eden Valley of South Australia have a massive range of wines, mostly at the volume end of the market. However their "flagship" wine is the Bonsai Shiraz, so named because after five years trying to establish the vines in the High Eden, the vines still looked like rootlings. The quartz that dominated the thin soil soaks up the sun by day and slowly releases it overnight acting like a kind of radiator, allowing the grapes to reach exceptional levels of ripeness. The low goblet shape of the vines keeps the yield low and the fruit quality high, producing an excellent wine. Ripe plummy fruit flavours with a touch of vanillin and crushed white peppercorns on the nose and palate. The tannins grip quite strongly just now, but this is a 2004 vintage, so it needs a bit of decanting now or ideally a couple of years slumber in a cellar. There is a rich spicy finish to the wine with a flavour that seems to linger on the palate for ages. Fantastic wine at a good price.

Thats about all I have time for just now, got to get ready for service. The boss is in tonight with the chef and the F&B manager to make sure we are all up to scratch. Best behaviour then boys.

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