A complex Chardonnay, a spice-infused Shiraz and a budget Pinot Noir from the Antipodes
Wolf Blass Silver Label Chardonnay, South Australia 2013 (£12.99, Tesco) “Troubled” is the adjective favoured by the business press when writing about Treasury Wine Estates. And with falling profits, a huge $100m loss in its last fiscal year and the announcement that it is to close a much-loved 130-year-old winery as part of a wave of cost-cutting, 2014 has certainly not been a vintage year for Australia’s largest wine company. This would not bother me if it weren’t for the fact that Treasury owns some of Australia’s greatest producers. A recent tasting at Wolf Blass suggested its Chardonnays, such as the complex, oatmealy Silver Label, are so far untouched by any trouble at the top.
Penfolds Bin 2 Shiraz Mourvèdre South Australia 2012 (£19.99, or £13.22 if you buy two, Majestic) The real diamond in the Treasury is Penfolds, which occupies a similar cultural position in Australia to Château Lafite or Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in France. Much of that is down to Grange, a shiraz first produced in 1951 that remains the country’s most expensive wine. The good news is that the fabulously silky, deep and exotically scented 2010 is one of the best I’ve tasted. The bad news is that a case of six bottles will set you back £1,770 (bbr.com). Better value is the polished St Henri Shiraz 2011 (£65, hedonism.co.uk), or, for my pocket, the purring, spice-infused Bin 2.
Jacob’s Creek Pinot Noir, South Eastern Australia 2013 (£7.99, Tesco) Another big Australian brand still coming up with the goods is Jacob’s Creek, which has been part of the massive French drinks multinational Pernod Ricard for some time. If the sight of the label rarely sets pulses racing, it’s probably a case of over-familiarity: when blind tasting, I generally give Jacob’s Creek wines good scores, and I’ll often emerge with its reliable Shiraz-Cabernet from the corner-shop offie’s range. Its latest addition is this fine-value light red, which drops the sweet jamminess of most budget pinot noirs in favour of food-friendly acidity and bonny raspberry and strawberry flavours.
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