Without wanting to suggest this wine is all about its 15.4% abv, smelling it reminded me of something a very clever fellow said to me the other day. And I paraphrase: alcohol can have its own smell, and it may, perhaps, be legitimate to enjoy a sweet tingle of ethanol as much as any other aroma. Food for thought, and a challenge to the reflexive position often taken that perceptible alcohol is a fault.
And yes, this wine does show a whiff of alcohol on the nose, as well as that characteristically swollen, slinky mouthfeel. It’s also a complex and seductive wine that I am enjoying very much. The alcohol lends an air of louche decadence and seems appropriate within the context of the style. Hence, it bothers me not in the slightest.
On the nose, hospital floors, rich earth, dark berries, cedar and tobacco. It’s quite approachable and well integrated, yet also shows quite serious levels of density and concentration, befitting its position as the premium label in Balthazar’s portfolio. It seems more approachable in some respects than its older sibling, with perhaps a slightly different oak flavour (going by my previous note, anyway).
The palate is very impressive. On entry, quite a fruit driven flavour profile, showing sweet blackberries and some astringent plum skins alongside attractive, supportive oak. The suppleness of the mouthfeel becomes apparent as we hit mid-palate; it glides and winds its way over and around the tongue, scattering complex flavours of cigar box, blackberry, salami, spice and dirt roads. The fruit is sweet, but the overall impression is savoury. Really satisfying intensity of flavour, and the density isn’t so great as to be forbidding. Indeed, this is quite approachable right off the bat. Very good, flavoursome finish.
As with all of Anita Bowen’s wines (that I’ve tasted), this wine shows serious intent and possesses an ability to jump around under one’s nose, delivering a series of shifts and changes through what I’d suggest should be a lengthy drinking experience. Sip slowly, deliberately, sensually.
Balthazar of the Barossa