There is currently a poll posted on one of the leading Australian wine websites (http://www.winefront.com.au/) asking which State you would pick to fulfil your wine drinking needs if forced to choose only one. While being a wonderful poll that really makes you think about how diverse the Australian wine industry is, the results have surprised me; Victoria is a clear leader. Personally I might have chosen South Australia or Western Australia, but there is undoubtedly a lot of quality wine coming out of Victoria.
So it seemed somehwat apt that last night I had friends over for dinner (including Red) and every bottle of wine we consumed was from.......Victoria. Furthermore, with the exception of a non-descript and passed-its-best vintage Sparkling from the Pyrenees, the wines were all superb in their own way.
Seppelt 2004 Drumborg Riesling (retail)
As you can probably tell from some of the reviews on this blog, both Red and I are big fans of Riesling – Eden Valley Riesling in particular, but also Clare Valley and any other top example of the grape. I had never tried a Seppelt Drumborg despite almost universal acclaim from critics, so decided to see what the fuss is all about. After almost 6 years in the bottle, this wine is still has years ahead of it – clear, light yellow with the slightest green tinge. On the nose it has strong floral notes. There were slight hints of burnt match upon opening (which almost gave the wine a kerosene smell), but these died away when the wine was exposed to the air. The wine has crisp lemon at the front and middle palate with mineral notes more prominent on the finish. The structure is tight and it has focussed line and length. This wine will develop for another 10-15 years with ease, and I would love to get some more of these babies.
Red's take: Similarly enjoyed the wine. Definitely got that kero smell that aged riesling starts to develop! Very very long
Clayfield 2005 Grampians Shiraz (retail)
For many Victorians (and wine enthusiasts in general) it is an article of faith that Great Western/The Grampians produces some of the highest quality Shiraz in Australia (in the more traditional, continental, spicy cooler climate ‘Syrah’ style). I have been impressed with most of the reds I have had from this region at all price points and will be investing in more in the future. Red invested in a case of this wine a few months ago and generously donated one of the bottles not destined for 10 years in his cellar to the evenings wine list. In the mouth the Clayfields Shiraz had ample waves of ripe plum and dark cherry with subtle lashings of soft sweet liquorice and spice thrown into the mix. The tannins were ripe and soft though still firm enough to assist the impressive structure. In short: a lovely, elegant medium bodied wine that is full flavoured, spicy and with great length and intensity of flavour. It should last another 5-15 years in the cellar (depending on how you like your wine).
Red's Take: As Brown says, it is a lovely, elegant medium-full bodied wine, and yet it still has wonderful volume and power on the palate. A sensuous wine that I absolutely love drinking. Looking forward to the other bottles I have in the cellar as they age gracefully
Mt Langhi Ghiran Billi Billi Grampians Shiraz (retail)
As luck would have it, there was a bottle of the Billi Billi in the wine rack and there was enough interest in tasting back-to-back bottles of Grampians red (well a glass of the second wine at the end of a relaxing evening). Tasting the Billi Billi after the Clayfields provided the opportunity to better identify regional Grampians characteristics and also effectively assess the differences in flavour and style between a $15 bargain and an elegant $45 wine with a capacity to age from the same region. On the nose and in the mouth, the Billi Billi had the same black fruits (less plum) with less intense/obvious spice and a mere hint of liquorice. The tannins were harder edged and there was nowhere near the same level of complexity as the Clayfields (as you would expect given the price difference and 2 less years in the bottle). However, for the price there was definite ‘bang for your buck' in terms of fruit flavour and approachability. There were clear regional similarities between the two wines – to paraphrase Len Evans, both smelt like a wine from the Grampians and not like generic glasses of Australian Shiraz.
Red's take: It was great to taste these wines back to back. While there were differences in terms of quality and complexity, they were so obviously both from the same region. Both wines, given their respective price points, are great expressions of Grampians terroir, and it's a flavour profile I love . . .
Summary: 3 great value wines at differing price points.
#Note: While being a casual dinner, there were no food-wine matchings per-se, though the main meal was Bavette Pasta with Pancetta, cream and rocket sauce (compliments to my wife, LB, the cook).