Wine of the week: two cunning Australian blends
Matthew Jukes tastes a pair of gorgeous Australian reds – a fruity shiraz mixed with glossy zibibbo, and a three-way combo of montepulciano, nero d’Avola and barbera.
2021 Thistledown, Gorgeous Old Vine Shiraz, Small Batch, Riverland, Australia
The shiraz or syrah grape variety is equally at home flying solo or being used as a component in a blend. It dominates the partnership in this thrilling wine by taking up 86% of the bottle, and the remaining proportion is a rather unlikely 14% zibibbo, or muscat. I have never tasted a shiraz/zibibbo blend before, and it occurs to me that the name Gorgeous is entirely apt here. This is a wine that majors on fresh berry fruit notes drawn from a single vineyard of old-vine shiraz while the zibibbo adds lustre and gloss, a little like those wines that employ viognier to do a similar, but perhaps more perfumed, task.
While some find shiraz/viog blends a little heady and fulsome, I doubt they would have a problem here because the white-grape addition augments the silkiness and slipperiness of this delicious wine. With only 13.5% alcohol on board, there is a freshness here, too, that lifts the finish and completes the picture.
From the same stable, there is another spot of cunning blending in the form of 2021 Wilder & Wilder, Cloud Cuckoo Land Montepulciano/Nero d’Avola (£69 for a case of six bottles, thefinewinecompany.co.uk; £12.99, haywines.co.uk). The blend is a three-way combo of 60% montepulciano, 28% nero d’Avola and 12% barbera. There is always something new to discover in this wonderful world of wine!
Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (matthewjukes.com)