I often remark on here about how when we taste wine around at our regular “Wet Wednesday” sessions that its quite different from how we judge a wine, or beers for that fact, at competitions. At a Wine Show you are taking a sip of the wine, aerating it a bit, and spitting, you’re looking at colour, flavour profiles, tannin and acid structure, mouthfeel and finish to name just a few points. Jotting down your notes and moving on to the next wine, in some cases you may have up to 200 shiraz’s to judge on a given day.
Around our table its quiet different, we try to make it more “real world” because wine doesn’t live in austere vacuum of a wine show.
What I mean by that is that our enjoyment of a wine is always shaped and formed by the moment; things like where we are, who we are with or what we are eating will all affect how we enjoy a wine. A summer afternoon wine enjoyed around the pool is far different from a wine that we would have during the middle of winter at a fancy restaurant. It’s also the reason why I always champion reading reviews from your own backyard, as a wine consumed in Hobart will taste quite different to the same wine being consumed in Cairns. Heat, humidity and seasonal aromas ie Golden Penda’s orTi-trees flowering, hot dry winds, the smell of rain on bitumen etc all effect what you will taste in the glass.
The wines around the tasting table are still served blind, in a brown bag and not only are we looking at all the factors from flavours through to mouthfeel, but we are also drinking the wine not just sipping. By drinking the wine we get more of those “real world” moments, having a glass and seeing if those flavours become too overwhelming, what you liked on first sip might become too much on the second glass. Checking to see how it works in climate, does it sit funny in your gut (especially true with beers), does it work with a little food, what happens as it warms. At a wine show you wouldn’t wear any strong perfume or use strong smelling hand soap as those aromas will affect your perception of the wine, however in the real world there are all sorts of perfumes and aromatics coming at you. From hand soap to tonight’s dinner simmering in the slow cooker, does the wine shine through or fall over?
But most importantly would we spend our hard earned on it, and would we go back for more? There’s been many times when we’ve liked the wine, but wouldn’t be willing to drop the money on it, or in a few cases liked the wine, but would struggle to go back for a second bottle.
Price point often isn’t an indicator here on our enjoyment of the wine. Yes you can taste that it’s a little more worked, or you can taste the quality of the oak, and often the more expensive wine will feel a little more polished in the mouth. And by that I mean the weight and density of the wine and the feel of the fruit, imagine the difference between a ripe plum or nectarine to one that has been buffed to a shine a little. Try it, they actually do taste and feel different in the mouth.
Over the last few weeks we’ve seen a lot of different wines come through, some good, some great, some not so, but all very different, all from different price points, and all from different producers.
Here’s a few of the best we’ve seen over the last month, that have manged to hold up in the real world: 3 below $20 and available everywhere, and one best found online.
Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Shiraz 2016 – loaded with dark berried fruit and dried crushed herb notes on the nose, a trace of liquorice and dark plum notes, a little more luscious and supple in the mouth than its Cabernet sibling, there’s a touch of graphite a little wisp of smoke, dark chocolate and smooth tannins lend to its long supple finish. About $16.
Castle Rock Estate Skywalk Riesling 2018 – probably one of the best bang for buck wines that we’ve seen in a while, it’s just so damned pure and precise, and ticks all the boxes. Lemon sherbet and fresh cut lime on the nose, on the tongue there’s a crunchy acidity that has this humming along, some faint green apple boiled lolly notes in there nut its driven by the lemon and lime notes, with light mineral, slaty note, fennel and some honeysuckle blossom. RRP $18.
Gartlemann Diedrich Shiraz 2015 – one those wines that you try and finally understand the term “it feels polished in the mouth”, it feels round and plush. The fruit and oak are seamlessly wound together, there’s a caress from the tannins, whilst not losing its complex savoury notes, its earthy, toasty and has some great dry spice notes. Really easy to drink. Will have a ling life in the cellar. RRP $50
Jacob’s Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 – say what you will, but the JC Reserve range never fails to fill your glass with great flavours, pouring them blind eliminates all those preconceived thoughts, and this was my pick from their red Reserve range, some sweet blueberry notes, a little crushed tomato leaf and eucalyptus notes, beefy and slightly warm in the mouth. Driven by dark fruit notes, it will carry well in the cellar for the next decade or so too. RRP $18 but much cheaper instore.