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 

£14.75, vagabondwines.co.uk

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)

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