There’s all sorts of chatter about 2011 in certain parts of Australia. There’s no doubt some good wines have emerged out of challenging conditions, but it’s equally true that some wines show the difficulties of the vintage. As a drinker, I’m sometimes interested in tasting the latter wines, because they are instructive and, at their best, can be differently enjoyable from those made in better years.
This wine, from boutique Victorian producer Mitchell Harris, shows a clean simplicity that, while ruling it out of contention as a wine worthy of extended contemplation, indicates a genuine and skilful attempt to make the most of the season’s challenges. On the nose, a meaty, peppery, nougat-like, red fruited aroma profile, which expresses as a series of loosely connected smells rather than something seamless and integrated. There’s a sharpness to the pepper note that I quite like, but the whole lacks definition and a coherent narrative.
In the mouth, a burst of red fruits, somewhat confected in character, along with more meat and leafy greens. It’s not especially intense, and it lacks a bit in texture. Its attractive flavours seem in search of a structure through which to express themselves, and this relative lack of form makes the wine drink as more of a quaffer than something especially demanding.
John Harris is a highly skilled winemaker, and expectations of this producer are high. In absolute terms, this wine may disappoint, but to craft something simple and attractive from a difficult year isn’t something to take for granted, and I look forward to subsequent vintages of this wine so I can better understand what Mitchell Harris is aiming for with this label.