NZ Syrah Viognier from Cambridge Wine Merchants recently, but found the Laithwaites wines I have tried so far to be a bit hit-and-miss, and being in general not a huge fan of Aussie wines, I was really not entirely sure what to expect from this Laithwaites Aussie Shiraz Viognier that came in one of my mystery cases.
Let's start by saying this is a well-made wine with good mouthfeel and length. What it does lack, however, is subtlety and restraint - this is a wine with everything turned up to 11 - and then some ...
The Laithwaites site says that this wine hails from the "McLaren Vale vineyards - the ocean-cooled region renowned for "world-class Shiraz" (The Observer)." It seems that cooling is only relative in Australia, and the 14.5% alcohol was perhaps a clue as to what to expect.
With rich bramble fruit, vanilla and a hint of truffleyness on the nose, on the palate shows intensely fruity, jammy, sweet blackcurrant, spice, eucalyptus and mint, pencil shavings, vanilla and more truffley earthiness from oak aging. On the finish, it has Shiraz's signature smooth, silky tannins and great length.
Very enjoyable to share a bottle with friends, but I think I would prefer just a little more restraint to consider seriously buying again.
We had this wine with a starter of mixed antipasti followed by linguine with chicken in a tomato and rosemary sauce. At £10 a bottle, this is very much a food wine, but the intense fruit rather overwhelmed the food and makes this a rather difficult match.
Black Stump Reserve Shiraz Viognier 2007 at Laithwaites - http://www.laithwaites.co.uk/DWBase/jsp/templates/article/productDetails.jsp?productId=prod502368
Monday, 19 April 2010
Monday, 5 April 2010
However, when it does grow well, it produces a wine like no other with flavours of red berry fruit, hedonistically decadent aromas of truffles, game and farmyard and a gloriously smooth texture. Elusive, moody and yet capable of a unique greatness, Pinot Noir is said to be the wine of poets, visionaries and romantics - albeit ones with deep pockets.
This example comes from Laithwaites and was part of a "mystery case" (a random selection case sold with a minimum 1/3rd discount against the list prices of the wines included) which I bought at Christmas time. The list price of this wine is £10.49, but the "mystery case" discount brings it to an implicit price of £6.99.
We are still working our way through the "mystery wines" (starting with the more basic wines) and so far they have been a bit hit-and-miss, with a relatively small number that I have really enjoyed and would buy again, several that have been generally unimpressive and the rest being pretty inoffensive but equally unmemorable.
However, for Easter we decided to break out one of the more serious wines and, as we had a leg of lamb ready to roast with garlic and rosemary, decided that this Pinot Noir might be just the thing.
The wine hails from the Casablanca valley, a prestigious sub-region of Aconcagua, which is mainly a white-wine area, being near the coast and therefore subject to cooling breezes which extend the growing season and lead to a more complex wine. That said, this is a 14% wine, so it's no delicate shrinking violet.
It is quite dark for a Pinot - presumably due to the elevation and those sea breezes again - so there's no mistaking this for an old world red Burgundy. On the nose there is plenty of rich bramble fruit, with more fruit and vanilla on the palate, hints of cedar and pencil shavings with a touch of toasty jamminess, good complexity from oak aging (8 months in French barrels according to the Emiliana website) some slight earthiness - which is typical Pinot - and a long, smooth velvety finish.
Tasting blind, I might struggle to spot this as a Pinot - it's darker, richer, jammier and less earthy-truffley than a typical textbook example, but it is extremely full of flavour and smooth, so it's no surprise it has two medals - a silver at the International Wine Challenge (2008) in the UK and a silver in the Concurso de Vinos Catad'or Hyatt Wine Awards - Buenos Aires (2008) in Argentina.
It proved to be an inspired choice with the lamb and went down a treat - it's even, dare I say it, rather good value, remembering that it is a Pinot Noir ...
Laithwaites - http://www.laithwaites.co.uk/
Emiliana - http://www.emiliana.cl/