Australian vineyards (Photo: Scott Davis)
Recently I went to a wine tasting at one of the local haunts and although
there were some exceptional wines on offer, I couldn’t help being
disappointed with the attitude of the guests. It was obvious that most
people had gone there not so much to taste the wine, but simply for a chat
and a good booze-up. Now I am not suggesting that a wine-tasting should be
held in an atmosphere of cloistered solemnity, though this would be my
personal preference, but it would have been pleasing if people had showed a
bit more interest in what they were supposed to be tasting.
If, like me and the
dogs, you read this column regularly, you’ll know that I tend to harp on
about aroma, which I think is just as important as taste. In a few cases,
it’s more important because strange as it may seem, I have come
across some wines that smell better than they actually taste. Few people at
the tasting were even bothering to look at the wines, let alone explore the
aromas and give them some thought. Some people were giving their glass a
cursory sniff, such as you might do to check whether the milk has gone off.
Others were knocking the stuff back as though they were drinking lager. This
was a shame, because several of the wines deserved better attention. Yes, of
course, wine is basically for enjoyment and I’ll be the first to agree. But
if you don’t bother to appreciate the appearance, the aromas and the tastes
then really what’s the point? I should have got used to this kind of
behaviour by now but it still gets me cross. It just seems a terrible waste.
Oh dear, I think I’m
really beginning to sound like a grumpy old fart. (Funny you should
mention that – Ed.) Right. No more complaints. Let’s start thinking
positively. These two wines come from the Reynella Winery which is in the
southern suburbs of Adelaide. It’s on the site of the oldest wine business
in South Australia, established by John Reynell in 1838. The Hardy wine
family eventually bought the business in 1982 in an ironic reversal of
roles, because in the 1850s Thomas Hardy worked for John Reynell during his
first six months in Australia.
Bin 383 Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (red), Australia. (Bt. 525 @ Various
In some ways, this
wine is a fairly typical Australian Cabernet. It’s a very dark, intense red
colour with a hint of purple. There’s a distinctive aroma of black fruit,
blackberry, ripe cherry and plum. There’s a touch of oaky spiciness on the
smell too. The taste comes as a surprise, because it’s more assertive than I
expected. Even though it’s a dry wine there’s plenty of fruit on the palate
which gives the impression of sweetness. There’s a good framework of firm
tannins too, which come through especially on the finish.
In contrast to many of
today’s Australian easy-drinking crowd pleasers, this one is made of
stronger stuff. It’s quite a macho little number really and very much a
“take me as you find me type”. It cries out for food and at 13.5% alcohol
content that’s not a bad idea. You could try it with roasts, barbeques, rich
red meat dishes or pasta. It would probably work with cheese. I say
“probably” because red wine and cheese, contrary to popular belief are not
I have found that
cheeses like Camembert and Brie work better with a white wine especially if
it has a dash of acidity, such as an Italian Pinot Grigio or a Grüner
Veltliner from Austria. Mozzarella works well with light and zesty Italian
whites and Gruyère goes a treat with Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or even dry
Sherry. The tricky one is Cheddar. Some wine writers suggest Shiraz or
Cabernet Sauvignon but I always feel that the tannins in the wine seem to
clash with the texture of the cheese. I find that a rich Chardonnay works
fine with Cheddar, or even a sweetish Sherry. On a hot summer’s day, many
British Cheddar-type cheeses taste their best with a glass of cold beer.
Bin 681 Chardonnay 2012 (white), Australia. (Bt. 525 @ Various Outlets)
This is a decent,
basic Chardonnay with a typical lemony-gold colour and hints of green.
There’s a pleasant and quite sophisticated whiff of peppery pineapple, if
you can imagine such an odd combination. The aroma also brings melon and
peach, a dash of citrus and in the background, hints of oaky dry herbs.
There’s plenty of lemony fruitiness on the palate and a lively cut of
acidity, which makes this medium-bodied wine taste crisp and refreshing.
It’s really dry but quite an easy-drinker, with the slightest suggestion of
sweet fruitiness. There’s a longish and attractive dry finish too. With its
bright oaky freshness and 13% alcohol content, this wine would work well
with fish dishes or lightly cooked chicken. White meat served with a light
creamy sauce would work well too, because the sharp and zesty taste of the
wine would make a pleasing contrast to the texture of the sauce. For the
same reason, it would make a good partner for soft and creamy French cheeses
like Brie, Camembert or St. Paulin. I think it would work well with a cheese
quiche too but to be honest, I can’t be bothered making one to find out.
You’ll just have to take my word for it.
There was a time was
when both these wines cost a mere Bt. 449 a bottle. But those days have gone
it seems, at least for the foreseeable future and the new taxes have made
this wine a little bit expensive for what you actually get. But they’re
available at many outlets and I have even seen them at Family Mart, which
might be reassuring to know if you run out of vino half way through your