Over the last few months, especially over the Christmas and New Years break I’ve noticed something amongst our friends, it’s the idea of “forgotten labels”.
And by that I simply mean the idea that there are some wine labels out there that some of us swerve past, as we’ve had a bad experience or that we somehow associate with being sub-par. Those labels that we say “geeze I used to drink that all the time”.
Once I noticed that we do it, I became aware that I do it myself, even after I prattle on about going back and trying different styles and labels again, because the wine that you didn’t like two years ago may be a cracker this year. To me it was really brought home midway through 2017 when I was more than pleasantly surprised by the wines from Chaffey Bros.
You see the team were responsible for two of the most average wines I have tried, wines that didn’t live up to their hype, an imported Italian Pinot Grigio and a red blend from Barossa. Granted the last time I tried those wines was nearly ten years ago, but I still cringed a little when these new samples turned up.
However, the wines from the team, not the same cringe inducing labels as before, were outstanding. These were wines that were so different from what was available readily in the current market that they stood head and shoulders above their competitors. The whites were spectacular examples of what could be done with a little bit of daring and had me hooked, while the reds ranged from surprising to wines that I now have in my cellar to see how well they evolve over the next ten years.
And it was all because I stepped outside my comfort zone and went back to try a label that I thought had turned me off for life.
Below I’ve listed a couple of labels that we all kind of move past, because of any of the reasons listed above, but they are all worthwhile going back and having a look at for their sheer brilliance.
Seppelt Drumborg Riesling 2016 – Seppelt have been a go to wine for many over the years, but seem to have lost a little shine with majority of drinkers. I’m not sure why as I think they offer some of the best value for money wines on the market, their Chalambar Shiraz and Jaluka Chardonnay are absolute stunning wines, both last year’s vintage and this years. But for me it’s their Drumborg range that gives the greatest drinking pleasure, especially the Drumborg Riesling, a wine that scares some because of its $40RRP, and others because it says Riesling, which they still associate with that 80’s sweet wine. But neither are true. The wine will set you back about $30, about the price of a good dinner party wine, and is anything but sweet, it’s an intense but zesty masterclass of what how far we’ve come over those decades. It’s juicy and driven with slate and citrus, with citrus blossom and fresh cut lime on the nose. This superb wine will also hold for the next 15 or 20 years, if cellared well.
Pipers Brook Late Disgorged Vintage Cuvee 2007 – Pipers Brook is one of those labels that we’ve all seen and all had a taste of over the years, but it’s still not a label that we would readily reach for when looking for a sparkling wine. A few years ago, about 2015, Pipers Brook decided to a leap of faith in their product by making a vintage release, producing a superbly drinkable sparkling at a fraction of the price of an equivalent quality French sparkling. But still the wine hasn’t seem to make traction with the general public, except in restaurants and bars, where people are always knocked out by its quality. There’s not huge amounts of the wine made, about 600 dozen, and shows all the hallmarks of a maritime climate sparkling; honey, lemon sherbet, wafer and fresh toasted brioche with mineral quartz and oyster shell notes, poached pear and fig. It’s not a wine that will continue to age for many years, if you can manage to stop yourself drinking it now though. RRP is about $40, readily available online for about $30.
Cougar Bourbon – Back in the late 80’s, early 90’s Cougar was all the rage. It was the bourbon being poured in most nightclubs; it was the bourbon being taken on most of the fishing trips and camping trips. But as time went by, it diminished in popularity a bit, which was a damned shame, because it’s always been a great whiskey, and one that has always stood head and shoulders above its competition at blind tastings I’ve gone to, tried alongside the names such as Jim Beam, Jack Daniels and Woodstock, bourbon whiskies in roughly the same price range. The old girl had a bit of revamp a few years ago, coming back with the old round shouldered bottle, which coincided nicely with a 95pt score from Jim Murray. Put simply it’s a great, sipping whisky that really should be in every bourbon drinker’s collection, crisp fruitiness which mellows out from the corn to deliver a mid-palate sweetness. The oak delivers good vanilla with lashings of caramels and dried fruit which can get overwhelmed when mixed with cola.
Orlando Lawson’s Padthaway Shiraz 2005 – a few years ago this was the won the best red in show and the best wine in show at the Cairns Wine Show. I was telling a mate just how good it was and his response was “stinky old Orlando wines….it’s just Jacobs’s Creek under another name”. And yes while it’s somewhat true, the parent company, Pernod Ricard, owns both Jacobs Creek and Orlando, the wines have never looked better. Named after Robert Lawson, an early pioneer of Padthaway in the south east of South Australia, Lawson’s has established itself as one of Australia’s outstanding red wines, having won a truck load of trophies and gold medals in Australian and international wine shows. It’s done so well for itself that it has been included in Langton’s prestigious Classification of Distinguished Australian Wine, but is still, it’s overlooked for wines that are of lesser quality, but have better marketing and PR. The 2005 vintage is remarkable with how much character the winemakers have been able to stuff into a bottle, there’s mint, blackberry, leather notes and chocolate pudding fruit/black sapote, that plummy chocolate character it has. Its complex, delightful on the tongue, has some savoury and spicy more-ish-ness, ages well too, with the ’05 carrying through for another few years with careful cellaring. What’s truly delightful about this is that it sits around $55 bottle, with all that age on it.