Language is rarely as tortured as it can be in the hands of wine enthusiasts. I suppose this happens in any field, but one of the more interesting features of language in wine appreciation is the evolution of subtext. Drinkability is a particularly interesting word in this regard; for me, to describe a wine as highly drinkable is an entirely positive thing. And yet drinkability is often code for a simple quaffer, something not worth much thought or respect. As if good wines are somehow above being drunk.
So when I suggest Eldridge Estate’s latest PTG is outrageously drinkable, please take a moment to erase all subtextual baggage. I mean drinkable in the most positive, forthright way — this is a wine that fairly leaps down the throat.
And not because it’s simple or dumbed down, either. Here, drinkability is a matter of style. As you can probably infer from the age of it, this is released as a young wine and, to my palate, is designed to be drunk fresh. There’s an acid sourness to the wine that may sound like a negative but which, in fact, is the key to its moreishness. Flavours are bold, with prickly herbs and spice, bright red fruit, some meaty depth. Tannins are loose knit and well managed. So it’s not subtle, but who wants subtlety in a wine like this? No, this is about vitality and verve and, most of all, food.
Quite a brilliant early drinking red style and, on the strength of this, something other Mornington makers may well wish to consider.
Thanks to Jeremy Pringle (of Wine Will Eat Itself) for sharing this with me. I believe it’s imported by Eurocentric.
The nose is complex and mostly savoury. As it unfolds, there are notes of unripe banana, some pretty fermentation esters, raspberry-flavoured boiled lollies and ripe, juicy weeds. The fruit character in particular seems to slip around with each sip, modulating between medicinal and sharply sugared. As it warms, a stronger thread of vegetation lifts above the fruitier, prettier dimensions, the whole becoming thicker, headier, more intoxicatingly perfumed. It ends up a really striking aroma profile, both comforting and sharp, like a warm jumper laced with thorns.
In the mouth, sharp and cool on entry, showing prominent acid which is well integrated into the flavour and flow of the wine. The fruit’s medicinal character comes to the fore here, and it’s surrounded by an array of complexities like banana skins and twigs. Weight-wise, this is lean the way a model is lean, not ungenerous so much as elegant in a highly particular, angular way. The after palate is the most fruit-driven point of the wine’s line, with more boiled lollies and the beginnings of a dry, raspy tannic influence that carries through the finish. Its tannins are worth lingering over. One might describe them as slightly green, though for me they are rough in a more positive sense, in the same way a banana that’s not quite ready to eat has that curiously powdery effect on one’s tongue.
A really fabulous wine whose complexity is especially remarkable given it sees no oak and is so young. Great value at $A30.
Domaine Jean-Marc Burgaud
This color seems wrong: too deep, too rich, too red. Surely it can’t be Beaujolais, can it? There it is, though, that telltale bright purple rim, something out of the effects department from Twilight; it’s impossibly young and is, I suppose, a market of an “unserious” wine (as would Carignane as well).However! This isn’t your ordinary banana-scented Beaujolais that someone brought home from last November’s sales; sure, there’s just a hint of that tropical fruitiness that carbonic maceration seems to produce, but it’s also much more at Burgundy than Beaujolais, somehow. To me, it smells of black pepper, balsamic vinegar, strawberries: dessert-y, sure, but also somehow very sophisticated. There’s also a sort of leathery component which makes me wonder if this wine has seen oak at some point; it seems relatively complex.Nicely tannic at the edges, the wine uncoils from its mineral depths and into a very fine, well judged middle-weight palate that delivers strawberries and cream with a sassy acid backdrop, allowing the fruit in the foreground to truly shine. It all finishes on a very bright, grapey note that reminds me of pears poached in a port wine sauce: lovely dark fruits seamlessly mixed with fresh produce from a spring garden.To me, this wine is utterly delightful: it seems to exist at that magical interstice between unserious and very, very serious. This isn’t supposed to be a grape worth paying attention to, but treated sensitively, as this wine is? It’s a rare treat.Château Thivin
I bought this wine because it is under screwcap. When it comes to bargain basement French wines, sometimes one needs to look for reasons to purchase. Perhaps I’m being a bit mean — this wine is super cheap, from a good year in the Loire, and its main grape is one you don’t get to taste in local wines: Grolleau (40%, with Gamay and Cabernet Franc both contributing a further 30%). I cracked this little number open to accompany Thai food.
The colour is quite watery, though not unattractive in its way. It’s sort of a faded peach colour. Excellent clarity. Moving on to the nose, there are faint aromas of floral fruitiness, with some spicy edges. That’s about the best way I can characterise it. No intensity here, but it’s clean and at least it smells good. The palate is again clean, but the lack of any real intensity of flavour becomes quite apparent. The wine just slips into your mouth, registers a few simple fruit flavours, and then it’s gone again. Sort of like a depressed singing telegram. Technically a demi-sec style, there’s a smidge of residual sugar to add body but, mercifully, no excess sweetness.
On the plus side, it’s a clean wine, well made, pretty. But terribly dilute. Food overwhelmed it a little. Serve this chilled at a casual summer lunch in lieu of Chateau Cardboard.
Date tasted: December 2007