Evans and Tate Metricup Road Cabernet Merlot 2012


As the new year ticked over I promised myself that this year I would pay more attention to my wine blog. As I write, we’re on the cusp of 1 June – not technically at the half year mark, but so close that the lack of posts appals me.

While there’s no excuse, the irony is that this year, while blogging has been relatively neglected, I feel like I’ve done a lot of writing. Not much of it has been about food and wine, and none in print (the Rioja article in the current James Halliday’s Wine Companion Magazine was written last year – but do go out and buy, read, enjoy). So while writing is not difficult, or even necessarily time consuming, finding some sacrosanct moments when I can think (so not after a full day writing microcontroller code, I can tell you!) has been tricky.

One of my wine drinking aims is to find those wines which punch above their weight. A bottle which costs $50+ and has been cellared carefully for the optimum amount of time blah blah blah should bloody well taste good. But the fun in wine drinking is finding those bottles that are sub $20 that you’d be more than happy to have three of (not in one hit – responsible drinking please!) to every $50 bottle. Yes, you do have to kiss a few frogs but I’d rather burn $20 on a frog than $50.

If you’re interested in wine, you end up reading lots of lists and, in my case, promptly forgetting them, meaning that visits to wine shops are pretty haphazard, but not truly random, affairs. Because I tend towards the esoteric, I’ve created my own list of “wines to try” that (hopefully) will mean I try wines that are more commercially approachable, as well the offbeat. Don’t worry – only this evening I picked up a Kangaroo Island Saperavi, so there will be quirky too.

Anyway, the other night, Andy was heading home from work via Dan’s and I was able to make immediate use of my newly created list and put in my order for the Evans & Tate Metricup Road Cabernet Merlot 2012 (my first pick was the Shiraz which was out of stock). Dan’s will sell it to you for $18 a bottle ($17 if you’re buying six or more).

Evans & Tate, now part of the McWilliams group, is based in Western Australia’s Margaret River. Margaret River has a climate similar to Bordeaux, and both are home to some of the world’s great Cabernet Sauvignon based wines. Cab Sav is often blended with Merlot: Merlot can soften Cab Sav’s tannins, balance the palate (the palate of CS is often described as a doughnut, with Merlot being the filling of the hole) and make the wine much more approachable at a younger age.

At $18 a bottle, I’d hope you wouldn’t be planning on cellaring a bottle of the Evans & Tate Metricup Road. Which is fine, because straight of the shelf and into the glass it is a wine that over delivers.

It is dense purple in the glass (yep, it’s young!) and on the second day (when I wrote the tasting note) the really over cassis notes of the first day had dropped away slightly. There was still cassis (blackcurrant) with black plum, a hint of licorice, some smoke and undergrowth.

The palate matches this: a lot of fresh black fruit – including blackcurrant, with good acidity and reasonably firm tannins. While you notice the tannins they’re not grippy or mouth puckering. There’s also a hint of licorice and chocolate.

The length of the wine is not bad at all and what does impress is the fact that the 14.5% alcohol doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.

This is a textbook wine. You probably wouldn’t get excited if you spent over $30 but at the sub $20 mark it over delivers. It’s well balanced and typical Cabernet Merlot but lacks the complexity you might expect of a pricier wine. But it’s not a pricier wine – it’s one I found approachable, pleasantly surprising and definitely delivering on bang for buck.

Drink with a protein rich mid-week dinner. A steak, lamb chop or even a pizza won’t be amiss.

$18 from Dan Murphy’s, Pasadena.
14.5% abv.


Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch 2010 Merlot Lagrein Tempranillo


Well, isn’t that a mouthful and a half?! I first became aware of the Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch brand way back in 2009 when Andrew Barrow wrote about the Shiraz and Chardonnay, which were being sold in the UK by Naked Wines. Brand awareness in place, it’s been ‘on the list’ ever since. Which shows you that I need more time, more money and quite possibly some kind of reserve liver.

Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch is a label produced by Plunkett Fowles in Victoria’s Strathbogie Ranges. In addition to the Chardonnay and Shiraz, the stable also consists of a Riesling and this unfamiliar blend of Merlot, Lagrein and Tempranillo.

There’s an awful lot I could write about this wine but that would make for one long blog post, so I’ll focus on the quirkiest aspect of this wine: the Lagrein. Lagrein hails from, and is indeed native to, Alto Adige in north eastern Italy. Wine Grapes tells us that it’s been written about since the fourteenth century and has a complicated family tree (including being a cousin of Shiraz and a grandchild of Pinot!). Got to love DNA analysis!

In Italy, where it is found in Trentino as well as Alto Adige, it is often blended but varietal wines are allowed by both DOCs. There are quite a few Australian producers, and I’ve enjoyed it before in a Heartland wine, where it was blended with Dolcetto. There are also a few Californian producers – although with just 31 hectares in 2008 I think we’d struggle to find those wines in Australia.

Wine-geek talk over, the thing to take away is that this is an unusual blend and you’re unlikely to find parallels within Australia, let alone in European wines. In many ways, this is a good thing because it means you can come to the wine with no expectations.

In the glass the wine is a very pretty ruby colour, which is reasonably dense. The nose is quite pronounced and initially comes across as a touch alcoholic, but it has a fabulous warm spice aroma, with a hint of herbaceousness. There are also black plums and black cherries with a touch of vanilla and dark chocolate. This is a pretty complex nose and there’s plenty there to think about and also to struggle to pin down!

In the mouth, this wine is all black plum with slightly earthy characters and chocolate and vanilla. There’s really good acidity and the wine finishes with a real flush of fresh fruit, including sour cherry. The tannins are very soft: unless you put in serious thought you won’t spot them but I suspect you’d miss them if they weren’t there! The length is good, but if you want to be really picky you could complain that it rather flatlines with the sour cherry.

I loved this wine. Don’t come to it expecting big, bold fruit flavours or mouth drying tannins because you’ll leave disappointed. But if you want a wine which is immensely drinkable, with some lovely complexity, and that is extremely food friendly, then you’ve come to the right spot.

I’d also like to commend Plunkett Fowles for the comprehensive tasting note on the website. If you want the nitty gritty on this wine, take a read! I wish more wineries provided this level of detail.

This wine was purchased from Belair Fine Wine for $30. It’s worth every penny.
Closure: screw cap
13.5% abv