One of my favourite account managers dropped in to see me the other day with the export sales manager from Domaine A wines. Domaine A are based in Campania Tasmania. Now just now Tazzie has got some seriously good ju-ju, getting loads of good press from the likes of James Halliday as the region to look out for. Go back about five years or more and the only Tazzie wine you would find would be Pipers Brook, which under the stewardship of Dr Andrew Pirie produced some cracking wines, including an eponymous sparkler which was fantastic. Now Pirie has moved on to new pastures in Tasmania, but loads of new wineries are now available in the UK, the likes of Tamar Ridge, Ninth island (2nd wine of Pipers), Devils Corner, Pirie, Jansz, Bay of Fires and of course Domaine A.
Now Id been fortunate enough to taste the Lady A Fume Blanc from Domaine A a few months earlier with Noel. Somehow he had been sent a sample bottle (considering that the UK allocation is about ten cases (of six) samples are exceptionally rare!!) and diamond geezer that he is, he wanted to taste it with me. Now Id hate to have this wine in a blind tasting, because Id swear blind it was Bordeaux Blanc, and good bordeaux blanc at that. Which is kind of amazing really, because apparently it was "created" to be in the style of Pavillion Blanc, which the owner Mme Althaus adores. The nose just doesnt present like a new world wine at all, the fruit is restrained, in balance with the flavours of the oak, a touch of smokyness, richness that just grows in the glass. The wine has complexity, many different layers that slowly reveal themselves over time. This is a wine to enjoy slowly, with food, and great friends. It is also best enjoyed at cellar temp, not chilled to death!! Were it now for the fact that the wine has only been made for about five or six vintages it would probably be in the top ten wines in the Langtons Classification, which is Australias premier classification for wines.
Paul also brought along a couple of reds to show us. We tasted the 2003 Pinot first. Again I would have hated to get this in a blind tasting. Morello cherries with a touch of spice competing with eucalyptus notes would probably steered me to barossa shiraz, all that was missing was the black pepper. This is a big pinot, quite weighty, but bloody good, if a little bit on the scary expensive side. Next up we tasted two different vintages of the Cabernet. First up was the 98, brambles and tobacco, very slight hints of eucalypt, but not as dominant. The wine was a deep purple colour, with the rim showing no discernable signs of maturity. I couldnt believe this was the 98, the nose was so fresh, vibrant, and on the palate it was the same. The fruit was vigorous, vibrant so fresh. It seemed so young. The 2000 had more black fruit character, and a touch more eucalypt on the nose, although the seamless integration of fruit and oak seemed to blank out the menthol characters on the palate. The wine is aged in 100% new french oak, which is bloody expensive in Oz. That quite possibly contributes to the scary prices, which puts them into the top end of double figures, barely scraping away from three figures on the wine-list. But if someone asked me, I would wholeheartedly say they were worth it.
Im hoping to do a gourmet dinner with Paul next year and showcase the wines of Domaine A, because they are fantastically good, and I get the feeling that in years to come they will be considerably harder to get, as their popularity grows. Danny was so impressed with the white that in the three days since the tasting he has gone and sold four bottles. Ive only got two left, and if I beg I might be able to get another six!! That will have to do me until next year!!