Wednesday, 21 May 2014

A Trio of Reds

For my work last week at the champagne and chocolate tasting, Christina was kind enough to thank me with a few bottles of wine to try.  They turned out to be quite diverse and interesting, so I would like to share with you my thoughts and tasting notes for each.

Samuel's Gorge 2011 Shiraz
The first red wine on my tasting radar was:

Samuel's Gorge 2011 McLaren Vale Shiraz.

This unique wine was a deep, opaque maroon/velvet colour, with the appearance of being quite viscous.  The nose was dark and brooding - I picked up notes of charcoal fire and menthol behind the earthy forest berries.  The sensation on my tongue was like a shagpile carpet under your feet, so velvety and opulent.  There was well integrated oak and dense, allspice notes.  

This is definitely one for the cellar, or to impress your friends at a dinner.

Next in line, I was fortunate to have two Cabernet Sauvignon's from Yering Station, Yarra Valley, in consecutive vintages.  These were:
  1. Yering Station Village 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon
  2. Yering Station 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

This allowed me the exciting opportunity to understand the difference between the two vintages and winemaking styles and how this impacted upon the expression of the wine.  Besides variations in climatic conditions between 2011 and 2012, the 2011 is from the 'Village' range, designed as a food wine for short to medium term cellaring, whereas the 2012 is from the Estate range, which can hold up with longer term cellaring. 

In regards to vintage seasons, 2011 was a much more difficult vintage for the Yarra Valley, with challenges from excessive rainfall, cool temperatures and disease.  This generally resulted in lighter wines and many red crops were severely reduced.  The better wines were often described as 'perfumed and delicate'.  On the other hand, 2012 was considered an exceptional vintage for all grape varieties.

With this knowledge, prior to tasting I was fairly sure I would prefer the 2012, due to my propensity for fuller-bodied versions of Cabernet Sauvignon.  After tasting blind, here is what I thought of the two wines:

2011 - Light in colour.  The nose was quite restrained (I had to stick my head right into the glass) with aromas of a red berry smoothie.  Very light-bodied with some cloves and red licorice, and had a wonderful, spicy length to it.

2012 - Much darker purple. I could smell the coffee grinds aroma you get as you walk into a cafe, mixed with plum jam.  Much less spice on this and I felt that it lacked much of a fruit taste.  I think this was overshadowed by the green capsicum flavour.

So, interestingly, I preferred the 2011.  Goes to show - never judge a wine before you smell and taste it!

Yering Station Cabernet Sauvignon - 2011 vs 2012