I do this blog for fun, the wines here are some of the very few I can be bothered to write up. The cream has risen.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Red Wines In Summer

I was at a nice restaurant last Friday, lovely balmy evening around 25C, and we were almost al fresco sitting at the front of the premises where the doors were wide open. They had a good wine list and great food. The unfortunate thing was the Cab Sav was already warm when delivered, and only got warmer when exposed to the lovely evening air.

The crazy thing is the white wine the ladies had, and I'm not claiming whites are for ladies only (though my mate Brian might), was served chilled and with a wine bucket to keep it cool. So the restaurant took the most care of the cheaper white wine made in stainless steel and that was barely 10 months old, and left the Cab, which the winemaker had nurtured for 3 years, to stew in the warm air.

It's about time Australia realised that "room temperature" for red wine is too warm, especially in summer. A Cabernet Sauvignon, like most reds, is best served around 15C, with even 20C really being the upper limit. Pleasant temperatures for humans isn't so great for red wines.

At home this warm weather I don't stop drinking reds, they either get around 30-60 mins in the normal fridge or come from my wine fridge which is 13C. I then put it in an insulated wine bucket. I also have this little round plastic chiller brick thing that I put in the bottom that is perfectly shaped for the bucket and works better than ice would.

If you overchill your red, it will warm up in the glass anyway, possibly with help from a warm hand. I reckon that's far preferable to sticking in an ice cube, as I've heard of some desperate people doing to a too warm wine. It is after all without external means, considerably easier to warm a wine than to cool it.

The better reds for summer are Grenache, Mataro, Tempranillo, and of course blends of those, but I'd encourage you to always cool your Shiraz and Cabs back down to ~15C to have with a nice BBQ steak or ribs.

I wasn't paying for the reds last week, but I regret not asking for an ice bucket so that I could have enjoyed them as much as the food. I didn't want to seem like a wine wanker, but on the flip side I would not have hesitated to ask for an ice bucket for a Riesling in the same conditions.

There's probably a few guides out there, but I suggest 13C is about as low as you want to go, 15-16C is ideal, and 20C as mentioned before almost too warm.

Friday, December 9, 2011

McLeans Farm Mataro Shiraz 2009

I spent a couple of very educational and enjoyable hours with Bob McLean this afternoon. I had sought him out because I'd randomly picked up his 2005 Shiraz Mataro, which was drinking beautifully earlier this year.

His vineyard and cellar door are up on Mengler's Hill, which is effectively the border between the Barossa Valley and the Eden Valley. Hence he uses the term Barr-Eden to describe his vineyard's terroir, which is at an altitude of 477-510m.

His Mataro vines are the highest in the region, and surprisingly, to me at least, they are grown as bush vines, which is a method far more common to Grenache, which he also has planted there.

Bob has been experimenting since at least 2005 blending various amounts of Shiraz, Mataro and Grenache. He very generously gave me effectively a vertical tasting of those, and just in case someone has one of those extremely rare bottles I'll give a quick overview, but the main purpose was to get an idea of where the wines are headed as a style.

The 2006 was a Grenache Shiraz Mataro, possibly not with respect to percentages in that order. The wine is excellent right now. It had a tiny bit of carbonation at first, which I don't see as a fault as it blows off fairly fast, but I mention it because it does mask other flavours. Regardless it needs to breath at least 30 mins, and longer is better. It's complex, intense, balanced and downright delicious. It saw only old oak and whilst Bob felt perhaps it could have used more I didn't find it lacking. This was the best wine of the day, mostly due to it's age developed complexity and poise.

No 2007 left, so to the 2008 Mataro Shiraz (sold out) , which I think was roughly a 70/30 blend. An intense wine initially, but settled down well to show more complexity. Bob felt it a bit steely but I more thought it showed a slight touch of  raisin character from the hot vintage. Again good balance, acid in harmony with fruit intensity. Perhaps slightly sleazy but you're not always looking for a girl to take home to mum.

The current vintage is 2009 Mataro Shiraz and sans notes I'm remembering this as being 50/50. I've got a bottle of this open right now so I'll try to be a little more accurate with this one. Initially both aroma and palate somewhat closed, at least compared to the older wines, but it's had 6 hours breathing now and both have opened right up. The Mataro is quite obvious with it's chorizo sausage and olive characters dancing around with the plums of the Shiraz. But whilst both are great dancers it's more like they're doing jazz ballet rather than a tango just now, but time will bring them closer together. Tannins quite fine, the gum licking acid is highly suited to a good meal. Very classy.

I also tried the 2010 which was effectively a barrel sample and found it hard to get past the tannins at this stage, but that's often the story with Mataro, it's just not a drink young grape, hence it often being teamed with Grenache. However I tasted enough to want to seek it out again next year.

The 2009 gets a Highly Recommended++ and **** especially given the very low production.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sieber Road 2009 GSM

It smelt bloody good pouring it in the decanter, and 2 hours later it smells even better in my glass.

I'm not a huge fan of Grenache, but the Frenchies in Rhone got it right when they blended it with Shiraz and Mourvedre. This is luscious and slurpable. Not sure whether to lick my chops or suck on the glass.

I really like all these Sieber Road wines, and I sometimes wonder whether I've been swayed to buying them by the very affable Val Sieber. Then again, when I enjoy them this much I don't really care.

This is everything I want in a slightly lighter weight wine for summer drinking, it's red fruit dominant but there's some black and blue too, tannins not too challenging for a warm evening, and just the right amount of acid for food or sipping slightly chilled (about 15C).

Recommended and ****, particularly good value in dozens from their website or cellar door.