Thursday, 30 August 2012

C'est le jour Cabernet

Well, it's Thursday 30 August. My gosh, doesn't time fly. It wasn't too long ago I was doing something that was a few months ago. 

Today is unlike no other, except that it's a day that celebrates the diversity of a certain wine variety. A variety that perhaps I haven't given enough credit to. Indeed, it is Cabernet Day. And what better way to spend it blogging, glass of Cab Sav in hand, shoes off and music on. Elton John, to be precise.

If I'm to be completely Frank, I've never been a big fan of Cab Sav. I've always found it 'too much' - too big in tannins, too phenolic, leaving an after-mouthfeel, like I've been chewing cotton for the past week, that makes me want to down a glass of mineral water and gargle madly. 

Don't get me wrong. There are traits to Cab Sav that I do like - red fruit, cedar and even that hint of eucalyptus. Smashing. Riveting. But even with all these good qualities, Cab Sav has never been my wine of choice.

But after tasting today's vino, I suspect that's all about to change.

Hay Shed Hill Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2010. Damn delicious. Smooth, rich, fruity, literally makes me salivate. And, while it's not too heavy,  the wine still boasts complex tannins that make it a thrilling drop.

So what is it about this wine that makes me want to get a bit naked? (Too much?)

Well, according to the tasting notes on the Hay Shed website, it's all to do with the vintage.

The 2010 vintage in Margaret River was in two distinct phases. Early in the season it was warm to hot and very dry. The fruit was scrupulously clean due to the lack of spring rain, making bright, clean and very fruit expressive wines.

While the height of summer was quite warm the season broke very quickly with temperatures dropping dramatically in late March proving beneficial as it allowed more time on the vine for the red varieties and prevented excessive sugar build up in the grapes which has moderated alcohol in the final wines.

And, of course, the winemaking.

The wine was matured in French oak barrels for 13 months allowing integration of fine oak and development of the soft ripe tannin.

Interesting, indeed. I'm yet to travel to Margaret River but it is definitely high on the to-do list, along with a whole bunch of other vino regions. But in the meantime, this vino is more than enough to suffice.

Happy Cabernet Day!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Ducks in a Row

Well, it's official. I'm feeling very, very sorry for myself. You see it all started yesterday when an invisible force smacked me hard in the face with a nasty head cold which, today, left me stuck on the couch choosing between Ready Steady Cook and MacGyver.

Yeah, I've had better days. Like, last Sunday. I drove to McLaren Vale to visit the lovely and passionate couple behind Ducks in a Row: Amanda and Glenn James Pritchard. Of course I can't not mention their very affectionate and wonderful wine dog, Roger, who I instantly fell in love with. And, after trying to eat my cardi and my dress, I figure he took a bit of a liking to me, too. Aw, Roger. Oh, so pretty.

Amanda and Glenn have been making wines under the Ducks in a Row label since 2009, with an aim to explore and produce new and lesser known varieties. I was lucky enough to have a tasting of the Fiano, Nero D'Avola, Tempranillo/Graciano/Mataro (TGM) and the Mataro - all from the 2011 vintage, and all of which were pretty damn fine. My favourites were the Fiano ($25) and the TGM ($25).

To be completely Frank, I've never quite understood texture in white wine - until I tasted this Fiano. Glenn, who has been making wine for decades, including for Penfolds and Hardys, puts it down to the making of the wine.

"Hand-picked grapes, minimal winemaking intervention, naturally fermented and then matured for 12 months in contact with its own yeasts and without oak, minimal suflur used prior to bottling, this wine is complex, aromatic and textured," he says.

For me, the TGM screams complexity: parcels of red fruit run in parallel with savoury notes while the Graciano provides a vibrant lift all the way through the wine.

But it's not just the the wine from Ducks in a Row that sparks my interest. The wine labels, individually, represent particular pieces from the below painting, which was crafted by the very wonderful, French-born Australian artist Mirka Mora.

There's some exciting news coming from Ducks in a Row, too. They're about to bottle and release a very special wine from grapes picked during the 2011 vintage. The wine? A Vermentino, Moscato Giallo and Fiano blend, to be known as Pandora's Amphorae.

What makes this wine unique is the way in which it has been made - in a terracotta vessel, or amphorae, originally used to make wine back in the heyday of the Greeks and the Romans. Only 800 bottles will be bottled in total and about half have already sold. For an interesting read on the winemaking process and how it affects the fruit and resulting wine, check out this post, written by Glenn just after the 2011 vintage.

You can also keep up-to-date with the latest happenings at Ducks in a Row here.

Until then, happy drinking. No drinking for me, though. I have to stick to my Lemsip. Doctor's orders.