I’m not familiar with this label but, according to the winery’s tasting note, grapes were sourced from across Victoria after bushfires affected its traditional regional base of the King and Ovens Valleys. That’s some pretty cool one off-ness for a paltry $9.50. I remember the days (not very long ago) of cheap Chardonnay oaked so heavily one practically got splinters in the mouth. I’m sure they’re still out there, but the vogue for tighter, finer wines seems to to have stimulated a fresh breed of cheapies. Or so I hope.
Anecdotally, Sauvignon Blanc, alone and in blends, seems to be the quaffer of choice for casual work lunches and similar occasions. It’s not hard to see why; flavours are for the most part easily discerned and unchallenging. There are some quite lovely versions of the “classic dry white” blend. The Grosset springs immediately to mind, and the Margaret River style seems especially prized by the lunchtime crowd. Most examples, though, seem to express more modest vinous aspirations. This one, from McLaren Vale based winery Tatachilla, is made from fruit sourced across South Australia.
I’ve got a head cold, am slightly cranky and, quite frankly, couldn’t take another cheap wine last night. So instead I opened a bottle of Collector Marked Tree Red. Thus sated, I can once again turn my attention to our value priced offerings. Here is a South Australian Shiraz from Angove’s, a Renmark-based winery with a broad portfolio of products. At $A6.60, it’s one of the least expensive wines in the dozen.
Amazingly, I managed to get the cork out of this bottle without breaking my corkscrew. Ouch! That sucker was really stuck in there, but I digress…If there was ever a wine that smelled of lanolin, this is it. One whiff and I’m back in Rotorua watching a tourist sheep-shearing show; afterwards, you can’t escape the gift shop without rubbing some of the local produce on your hands, and this is what it smells like. The aging here has also contributed a sort of butterscotch and must that’s not too bad: it’s kind of like your grandparents’ house, actually – imagine a dish of slightly moist hard candy that’s a souvenir of the Brussels World Fair, but again I digress…The color has wound up at a beautiful gold the color of fresh Oregon apple cider. Once you drink some, it doesn’t taste at all like you’d expect, I reckon: there’s a quick start of something like Granny Smith apples with an underlying steel; then, it’s on to quince and pears with an appealingly full mouthfeel. Supporting acidity is very good indeed, veering towards Clare riesling territory, but it all winds down on a lovely note of warm apple pie (or tarte tatin if you prefer a Francophone air to your wine tasting notes).With some time and air, notes of smoked salt and poire also surface.What was a relatively simple wine in its youth is, I think, better for having waited. It’s hard to imagine this being any better than it is right now, especially considering the price.
Sirromet, located about twenty minutes from my house, is a winery I’ve driven past on many occasions but never visited. I thought I’d browse its website as part of writing this note, and in doing so discovered a rather large range of wines. Whilst there is a vineyard at the cellar door facility in Brisbane, I gather its fruit comes primarily from vineyards located in the Granite Belt region, near Stanthorpe. This wine, a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, is part of Sirromet’s entry level “Perfect Day” range, and is made from Granite Belt grapes.
Surely, at $4.25, I’m tempting fate. The bargain dozen has gone quite well so far, with some unexpectedly unusual wines and a bit more character than I dared to hope for. Here, then, is a red blend from that vaguest of “regions”, South Eastern Australia. Having barely escaped a critter wine encounter with my sense of wine still intact, I’m interested, if a little apprehensive, regarding this equally inexpensive label.
Barossa Chenin Blanc. I’m guessing it won’t bump Pinot Gris from fashionably derivative restaurant wine lists any time soon. However, Chenin Blanc interests me as a variety because, as lovely as it can be in the Loire Valley, it seems to leave its personality at home when it travels. And yet, the loveliness of a nice Vouvray keeps me hoping for greater things in our local wines. At under $10, at least this wine makes it inexpensive to test the waters.
This wine stood out on the shelf as an oddity: a non-vintage red table wine made from the pressings of miscellaneous (and unspecified) varieties, proudly advertised as unfiltered and preservative free. All this strangeness for $10.15 — now that’s value. According to its website, La Cantina is a family-run producer in the King Valley of Victoria. Its range includes a number of very reasonably priced labels made from predominantly Italian varietals. This wine is the baby of the range.
Time for an experiment. I’m not afraid of wine made for the price conscious consumer, perhaps as much out of necessity as anything else. But I tend to stick with tried and true favourites; those acknowledged bargains that, in terms of quality, consistently sit above their price points. I also tend to shop in the $15-20 price range for my everyday wines. Habit can mask new opportunities, so this evening the other half and I decided to visit our local 1st Murphy and purchase one dozen bottles, the total of which was not to exceed $120.