WayWood Wines Shiraz Cabernet 2007

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I’m sure I’ve mentioned before about my local bottle shop. At a high level, its range is standard – there are lots of wines at the ‘under $20′ price point, there’s a small selection of ’boutique’ wines (small wineries, unusual grape varieties) and a reasonable selection higher shelf reds. It’s not my ideal wine shop but shopping there is not a dire experience, either.

The really cool thing about this shop is that every now and then you can discover absolute gems. You know when you watch antique programs on tv (programs about antiques, not programs that are themselves antiques!) and the presenters often talk about someone having ‘a good eye’ – well, that is how it is with wine and our local shop. It’s less about the eyes and more about a gut feel that the price and the label just don’t really match up.

So quite a long time ago now I was recovering from a cold and was still quite bunged up so I was very keen to spend under $20. I actually did have a particular wine in mind but wasn’t able to find it so I was wandering around the shop in a slightly still-full-of-cold befuddled state when I spotted the WayWood Shiraz Cabernet 2007 marked down. Having met Andrew Wood, WayWood’s owner and winemaker, a couple of years ago I picked it up.

That evening, I opened it, poured myself a glass and realised that while I still couldn’t actually taste very much, it tasted pretty good. I shoved the glass to Andy and asked for his expert opinion. As ever, his expert opinion was tempered by “how much did this cost then?” but between us we decided that the price I paid was significant bang for buck. I checked pricing with Andrew and then headed back to the bottlo the next day to relieve them of the remaining three bottles.

Since then, I have, on and off, been able to enjoy this wine and earlier this week, I opened the last bottle. My last opportunity to write a tasting note.

The wine

Intense, deep ruby in the glass.

The nose shows pronounced licorice, blackcurrant and blackberry with a touch of violet and some spice and fruitcake. It is pleasingly complex and not overwhelmingly fruit-driven. It is starting to show a little maturity.

On the palate, things look really good. There’s good acidity and the tannins are still nice and grippy. This, combined with the ton of juicy black fruit suggests that there’s no rush to drink this wine. Combined with that lovely rich black fruit is some spiciness and even a slight smokiness (or is that smoked meat?). The length is excellent and that attractive fruit is really persistent. There is a touch of alcohol heat there but it is by no means intrusive or detrimental to how much you will enjoy this wine.

The chances are that the only place you can now find this wine is at the WayWood cellar door and it could well cost you considerably more than it cost me.

WayWood Wines. Purchased as a bin end at < $20 per bottle. Limited availability as museum stock at the winery.
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14.5% abv.

Serafino 2007 Nebbiolo

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We have some friends who married in early June and somehow we’ve managed to spend a good many of their anniversaries with them. Even though we all met in England, they married in the US and have since lived in the UK, Bermuda and now Sydney. One such anniversary was 2010 when they spent a few days in Adelaide. Our Entertainment Book paid for itself in one fell swoop that year!

One day that weekend we headed down to McLaren Vale, visited a few wineries, bought a few wines and found it next to impossible to buy lunch at 3pm. One wine we picked up was the Serafino 2007 Nebbiolo.

I could tell you all about Nebbiolo but I won’t because that kind of clinical wine geekery belongs in a review when there’s no back story bar “I bought a bottle of wine”. I’m sure it is an established scientific fact* that visiting a cellar door slightly bends our perception of the wines, but hopefully, after three and a bit years, I can bring some objectivity to the glass.

In the glass, the wine is garnet and brick in colour, but this illusion of age is not backed up by a nose surprisingly dominant in fresh red berry fruit, which also shows tar, licorice, spiciness, wet bitumen and some perfumed, floral characters like lavender.

The fresh fruit also shows up on the palate with plenty of pronounced fresh red cherries, even cherry jam. There is a slight savoury kick and some licorice, but the wine is still very bright. There’s good acidity and grippy tannins but they don’t dry out your mouth.

A wine we both very much enjoyed. It’s a shame that Serafino no longer appears to make this wine because I would certainly be tempted to seek out current releases. I can’t remember how much we paid for it, though I know it didn’t fall into the bargain basement category. I should also confess that it’s been stored in what might be described as less than ideal conditions.

And if you need more emotive context – the Serafino cellar door is both impressive and pretty. It sits in large grounds, with a lake, and boasts both a restaurant, function centre and accommodation.

* This may be not be available as peer reviewed research but it’s certainly a well discussed phenomenon.

Pertaringa 2010 Undercover Shiraz

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I feel like I should put a disclaimer on this – I’ve met socially a couple of people involved in Pertaringa and they’re really lovely. Of course that is going to colour how I feel about the wine. In addition, I don’t think I’ve had a wine from the Pertaringa/K1/Geoff Hardy stable that I haven’t enjoyed – and I have tried a few. If you’re a fan of alternative varieties, then these labels are a good place to start looking.

We don’t normally drink a lot of big South Australian Shiraz – we’re both much more likely to plump for a different variety (why, hello, Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo) and when we do drink the typical South Australian Shiraz it is usually something at a slightly higher price point with a bit of age on it.

All well and good but I was clearly in the mood for a big red when I bought this waaaay back in July. I have to say that at $19.99 (which is what I paid) this is definitely in the value for money bracket. You can easily pay more for a Shiraz that delivers less interest. This wine is very food friendly and approachable and that will make it a clever option for any time you need to take a wine somewhere. I figure that at this price point, a wine has to not make enemies. You should drink it, enjoy it and be sufficiently impressed that you would take it round to your mate’s house on the weekend for a BBQ or round to your mum’s house for Sunday roast. And by those criteria, the wine scores a big tick.

In the glass, the wine is intense purple-ruby in colour – it is young after all!

The nose is reasonably pronounced and shows vanilla, warm spice, blackberry and both black and red plum, with the black dominating.

In the mouth, I found this wine a trifle hot and this heat did rather dominate the wine’s finish. But it did have a ton of juicy black fruit, an almost over generous whack of vanilla and an ever so slightly savoury edge to it, adding a bit of interest. While the tannins were actually pretty grippy they do drop away so don’t be buying this wine for extended cellaring.

$20 from Cellarbrations, Flagstaff Hill.
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14.5% abv.

Henry’s Drive 2010 Dead Letter Office Shiraz

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One of the perks of my gig at (the sadly now defunct) Sumptuous was the lovely selection of wines I got to taste. While I did have input in the theme of the wines, and I did get to make suggestions as to wines to taste, there was always at least one wine I didn’t pick. Which I thought was great, because it was a surprise. And I’m also inherently pretty lazy. When it comes to dining out, the shorter the menu, the better. If it comes as a set menu – result. Set menu with matching wines – double result. I don’t have to make any decisions!

So I was pretty happy to visit my GPO box and find two bottles from Henry’s Drive. Henry’s Drive is based in Padthaway (Limestone Coast), in the south eastern corner of South Australia. It’s not a brand I’d come across before so I came to both bottles with no preconceptions.

Henry’s Drive has the bulk of its vineyards in Padthaway, with just 30 acres in McLaren Vale. The fruit for this Shiraz is sourced from both regions: an almost even split in this release, the scales just tipping slightly in favour of McLaren Vale (55:45).

In the glass the wine was intense. Ruby red in colour, with a pronounced nose showing black plum, spice, licorice and tar. There was also a hint of vegetal character.

This black fruit dominance carried through onto the palate but there was also vanilla, spice and a touch of black pepper on the back palate. The wine had a lovely savoury finish with an aniseed/licorice kick to it. The wine had a good level of acidity and soft tannins that provided weight and structure but weren’t drying. The tannins, alcohol and fruit were all very well integrated, making this a well balanced and easy to drink wine. It might be 14.5% alcohol but you wouldn’t know it. ¬†While this is lovely to drink now, you don’t need to be in a hurry to drink it either.

Although this was a sample, the RRP is $25. If I’d paid $25 for it I’d have been pretty happy. The internet suggests that you may be lucky and able to find it under $20, in which case you’d be even happier.

This wine was a sample.
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14.5% abv.

Kangarilla Road 2009 Sangiovese

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You will struggle to find this wine. The 2010 (featured in the Winter issue of Sumptuous) has been sold out for ages. But my local bottle shop almost always has something interesting tucked away if you do a bit of hunting. Andy brought a bottle of this home for me one day, and I returned a couple of days later and bought the last bottle.

Kangarilla Road is a McLaren Vale winery with instantly recognisable labels: a black ground with an image of the vine leaf. Very striking and easy to spot.

Sangiovese is something of a ‘thing’ in McLaren Vale. Its Old World home is Tuscany. I guess I’d describe the climates as being vaguely similar but Tuscany has some rolling hills and makes McLaren Vale look seriously flat. Despite its Tuscan pedigree, Sangiovese is actually part Tuscan and part Calabrian, and is actually found growing in many wine producing areas, under a variety of synonyms. For example, you can find Coriscan, American and even Swiss examples of this wine. In Australia it arrived in the 1960s but was not commercially planted until the 80s, with the first block being in Penfold’s Kalimna vineyard. The commercial pioneers are considered to be Coriole and Dromana Estate (Mornington Peninsula).

I tasted this wine on 29 June, and the bottle had been open one day.

In the glass, the wine was ruby in colour with medium intensity.

The nose was quite pronounced: black cherry, vanilla, even blackcurrant. In fact, the blackcurrant was pushing towards blackcurrant jubes. There was a very slight green or herbaceous character to the nose which was a good thing as it balanced out the slightly confected jube notes.

The black cherry was dominant on the palate, with firm, but not drying, tannins providing a lovely structure. There was some cedar spiciness and the wine had good length. I did wonder if the finish was perhaps a little hot, but that didn’t stop me heading back and buying the last bottle.

This wine was purchased from Cellarbrations, Flagstaff Hill for $26.
Closure: screwcap.
Alcohol: 14% abv.

In the mouth,