Economic conditions in Australia right now are challenging. Wage growth is virtually non-existent and jobs continue to migrate from traditional areas to new service industries and self employment.
So come June 30 the scorecard of financial success will vary wildly. As always, there will be winners and losers, both sometimes as a result of simple (mis)fortune.
So when considering wines for this particular column, it struck me, given that its potentially one short step from the penthouse to the outhouse, enlightened self-interest dictates I best ensure a selection of wines that would do the cellar in either proud.
The wines featured in this two-part yarn will serve you well to survive the vicissitudes of personal finances. Note: no whites feature as Melbourne’s weather did not leave me in the mood to review any.
Let’s start with the outhouse:
2017 Voyager Estate “Project Sparkling” Chenin Blanc
Margaret River, W.A.
I’ve spent most of my adult wine life avoiding “sparkling” wine. Basically its always been a “give me Krug or give me nothing” kind of approach.
However desperate times require desperate measures. But even so, sparklers made from Chenin Blanc?
Turns out there is a fair bit of fun to be had with these for not a lot of cash.
From one of Margaret Rivers leading still wine producers comes this tasty little number.
Pale appearance. Fresh lifted aromas primarily of citrus, with a hint of apple pie in the background. Youthful citrus driven flavours, light to medium weight, good gas, fresh clean and with a very crisp finish.
Handy aperitif style to enjoy, this is built for enjoyment not analysis, and is an interesting alternative for Prosecco drinkers to have a go at.
2016 Domaine Pichot Sparkling Vouvray
Loire Valley, France
Another Chenin Blanc sparkler, but this time from the French home of Chenin, the Loire Valley.
Made by one of the Loire’s great producers, this is a first rate example of what the region can do with sparklers at very modest prices.
Light mid lemon appearance. Lovely aromas of warm pear, spice and fresh pastry.
Really quite characterful and flavoursome palate of genuine intensity, with lots of those fruit flavours again which finish long with echo notes of ripe Jonathan apples.
The extra size of this wine serves it well to partner with a range of food, from chicken to roast pork as well as some cheeses.
2016 Bannockburn 1314 a.d. Pinot Noir
From one of Australia’s very best producers of pinot noir comes this little “Big V” beauty.
Fresh lifted bouquet of dark and red fruits with a very light background note of “dead leaf/sous bois”.
Tickles the palate nicely on entry with its youthful plushness which follows through to a nicely weighted spicy mid palate. Finishes with persistent aromatic afternotes, surfing a lick of new oak.
Might well become my go-to house red. Deee-licious. Go the “Big V”.
2015 Chianti Montespertoli Riserva
Yet another gem crafted by the brothers D’Anna who, for a number of years, have travelled to Italy to studiously put together their own cuvées of the great Italian DOCs.
It’s fascinating work they do, as its really back to the future; to the days of good old-fashioned wine merchants, who made their reputation on their ability to craft proprietary bottlings for their customers and the extra value that can be delivered.
Their track record with doing this is impeccable and this wine certainly doesn’t let the team down.
100% Sangiovese. Intense and complex bouquet with notes of anise, sour cherry, leather and iron.
Excites the palate nicely on entry with the savoury dark and red fruit notes showing good middle palate intensity.
The flavours are persistent, lively and coat the tannins throughout the persistent finish.
A really sweet little winter warmer this one. Lovely drink and great value.
2017 Silent Noise “SGZ” Shiraz Grenache Zinfandel
McLaren Vale, S. A.
Never heard of this producer/winemaker. My bad.
Most readers will be familiar with SGM/MGS/GSM etc acronyms where the S and G represent Shiraz and Grenache respectively. So it’s perfectly understandable if you go “What the hell is SGZ?”
In this instance the “Z” represents Zinfandel, and what a deft and fortuitous touch that variety lends to this cheeky little number.
Vibrant, youthful, bright crimson red. The aromas are chock full of red and blue fruit notes with a hint of clotted cream: very much like a summer pudding.
The palate has a juicy attack on entry with a delicious mid palate burst of those pudding flavours and finishes with a clean, fruit driven finish. Very attractive, very gluggable.
Winemaker Charlie O’Brien has nailed the style for the price point. Innovative and very satisfying.
2016 Massena “The Moonlight Run” Mataro Grenache Shiraz
Barossa Valley, S.A.
This is almost equal parts of the three varieties noted above, with about 2% Cinsault added for good measure.
Deep intense black-red appearance. Fresh, juicy, lifted bouquet of dark plum and cherries, with a deliciously spicy backnote melange.
This really glides across the palate with the vibrant fruit speaking clearly throughout the medium weight palate which really satisfies with its shapely long, fragrant and crisp finish.
There are lots of these “alphabet” blends out of the Barossa; this one is masterfully crafted and deliciously drinkable. Bravo.
2016 Pittnauer Pitti Blaufränkisch/Zweigelt
From the east of Austria (Burgenland) within spitting distance of Hungary, comes this blend of Austria’s two dominant red varieties.
Bright, medium dense crimson appearance. Fresh, cool aromatics of red and blue berry fruits front some “damp woodsy” backnotes.
The attack on entry is surprisingly shapely and lively, and leads to a medium weight plush mid palate full of bright red and darker berry fruits which finish long and are buttressed with integrated chalky tannins.
Those wanting drinkability akin to that of good Booj but with a little more “grunt” would do well to tuck into this.
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