Some wines tread a fine line between angular and offputting. This wine (or this bottle) is certainly a good example; at least at first, where the overriding impression is one of tacky New Zealand geothermal theme parks (“Craters of the Moon!”) and mud. But just as I was about to reach for the term “European” to describe what felt like a borderline faulty wine, it has zapped into focus, becoming a peppery, meaty expression of Shiraz Viognier that is decidedly improving with air.
Full-on pepper steak aromas smother core of dense berry fruit, quite dark in character and brambly in expression. The aroma is actually quite fascinating in its cacophony; I can’t decide whether it’s disjointed or a radically different interpretation of coherence. I suppose that it prompts such aesthetic flights of fancy is a point in its favour, irrespective of taste.
The palate is also curiously styled, with a plump apricot presence alongside red berries and more cooked steak. It’s flavoursome for sure; the entry has good immediacy and zips along in the mouth, thanks mostly to some fairly prominent acidity. The middle palate relaxes a little, though it’s still bright. Medium bodied, this wine’s mouthfeel is slippery despite the acid, and reminds me a little of the way apricots feel when you bite into a ripe one. Fruit character is quite sweet, which is a provocative counterpart to the funky, meaty notes and makes for a flavour profile that is full of contradictions. Good continuity through the after palate, and a nice flourish on the finish helps berry flavour to linger on for a good while.
Despite its oddity, I’m fascinated by this wine. Its profile is far from conventional, and tends towards exaggeration. But it’s also more beautiful than many conventionally styled wines.