Swinging Bridge Reserve Shiraz 2010

I’m a bit conflicted about this wine. I previously enjoyed this producer’s Sauvignon Blanc and felt it could have been pushed harder into less compromising stylistic territory. I feel very much the same about this wine, which pitches at quite a different level but which is similarly torn between distinctiveness and a desire to be crowd pleasing.

The nose shows a mix of peppery spice, slick oak and ripe, sweet red fruit. The spice is wonderfully adult and the oak sharp, which makes the character of the fruit stand out a little, as if an everyday quaffer had wandered into something altogether more elevated by mistake. It’s not that the fruit is of poor quality; indeed, I feel the reverse is true. But the expression that has been coaxed of it is bouncy and sweet, a little too much so, such that the aroma profile never quite coheres.

The palate tells a similar story, though its structure provides some added delights. Acid, in particular, is fine and sharp, adding real zing to the fruit’s bright flavour profile and helping it to stay within more adult parameters. I like the way this flows over the tongue, and the clean, firm articulation of its flavours is truly delicious. I just wish, though, the fruit weren’t quite so eager to please. A more savoury expression would allow the brown and black spice to shine, and the delicious oak to be a more integrated part of the wine’s overall flavour profile.

As with the Sauvignon Blanc, this shows genuine potential and is in many ways a delicious and interesting wine. Some finessing of the fruit’s character would bring out the potential I see here.

Swinging Bridge
Price: $A45
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Sample

Gardners Ground Merlot 2008

Onwards with my train wreck obsession with Australian Merlot. This one’s from the Cowra region (well, Canowindra actually) and is a pretty good rendition of a quaffing red. A bonus is that it’s organic.

The nose is robust and relatively complex, with juicy, jube-like blackberries, crushed ants, subtle oak and a bit of snapped twig for good measure. The straightforward fruit flavours are pleasing enough, but what I like most is the savoury notes are quite assertive, bringing interest and an edge to an otherwise plump aroma profile.

The palate shows similar characters and a pleasingly rough mouthfeel. Entry is quiet, the most significant influence being quite bright acid. Fruit weight builds towards the middle palate, and there’s a fun medicinal edge to the flavour profile. I like the rustic savouriness of the flavours; there’s a sappy, wood-like note that comes across as dirty, in a positive sense. The main issue I have with the palate is what appears to be an excess of residual sugar, which adds body but also prevents the wine from reaching an extreme of style that I’d be interested in experiencing. Still, it’s well judged for pleasurable, mid-week drinking. And I’m not going to argue too much with that.

Gardners Ground
Price: $A19.95
Closure: Stelvin
Source: Sample