SPIN THE BIG+ BOTTLE!

Friday, May 14, 2021

Apologies about the lack of Blog last week. We are back now with some interesting wine titbits…

BIG BOTTLES: A couple of Saturdays ago with a Covid restricted group of friends, we enjoyed a “Big Bottle Bash” at The Ed Hotel in Mitcham, Adelaide, where all the bottles (other than the magnums of dessert wines, 1983 Château Coutet Barsac and Morris Liqueur Muscat) were double magnums and the centre piece was an imperial (6.0L) bottle of Tim Adams 1990 Clare Valley Shiraz. Whilst we had a double magnum of Trilogy sparkling wine to kick things off, we were unable to find any double magnums of white wine, so it was a rather red affair.

Big bottles are a pain to store in the cellar, and a challenge to pour from, but the advantage of a big bottle is that the wine therein matures much more slowly than in a 750mL bottle.

Not a scientifically proven fact, but generally accepted is that when you double the size of the bottle, you increase the cellar life of the wine by around 50 per cent. So for example, a 750mL bottle of red which has a “shelf life” of 10-years, will have a life of 15-years in a magnum.

The reason that I brought this up is that bigger bottles not only keep better, but they also make for much bigger, brighter and better celebratory events, especially landmark birthdays or anniversaries. Yes, it takes a lot of planning to obtain magnums (or larger bottles) when they are released, but the joy they bring is well worth the effort.

PS: I have three magnums of 1986 reds carefully tucked away, ready to be the highlight of our 40th Wedding Anniversary celebrations, in 2026.

HYPE & SPIN!:  I recently came across an article that was titled “Bordeaux converting to organic on a massive scale”. Knowing how slowly the wine industry in France normally progresses, I read it with eagerness, only to find out that “people are talking about 300 conversions to organic this year”. Wow! Not facts but hearsay and while 300 sounds pretty impressive, given that there are 6,000 wineries plus countless small private vineyards in Bordeaux, the figure at less than five per cent isn’t quite as impressive as the article would have us believe.

Also, it did not state whether they were just starting the five-year process this year or actually achieving certification this year. Perhaps the “rush” to achieve organic certification may be due to the fact that in a declining market, there is currently a considerable premium for organically certified Bordeaux wines. This is a state of affairs that will not last as more and more producers become certified organic, so the “early adopters” will reap the price premium for their wines.

Here in Australia there is no premium, in fact until fairly recently being organic was almost a bit of a stigma on a wine as people were confused between organic and preservative free (which tended to mean “will not last long”). Therefore, it seems to me that those growers that have/are converting to organic, let alone Biodynamic, are doing so for significantly more altruistic reasons than their Bordeaux counterparts. The more organic and therefore environmentally sustainable our wine industry becomes the better for all of us and the future.

Cheers! Have a great week, enjoy excellent wines, stay safe and remember #chooseaustralianwine and when possible enjoy #emergingvarieties

This Week's Wine Review:

This week I am talking about a rare but great red wine blend, the Merlot Cabernet blend.

I first came across this unusual/rare blend in the 1990s when Winestate Magazine rated the initial release of the Chateau Yaldara The Farms 1991 Merlot Cabernet as 5-stars and top in category in a tasting. It was a cracker old vine wine with soo much flavour, depth and subtle elegance that I fell in love with it. Later I was to find out that this awesome wine had been made by the ‘Grand Merlot Master’ himself, Jim Irvine. I had the opportunity to work with Jim when I took over as the General Manager of Yaldara Wines in late 1999 and over a short space of time we became close friends. Jim had a pretty good Merlot Cabernet (made from younger fruit) under the Irvine Wines label, however the Yaldara ‘The Farms’ Merlot Cabernet has always been my benchmark.

Recently, I came across another awesome example of this very rare blend, when I tried the REILLYS WINES 2017 CLARE VALLEY MOON VINE MERLOT CABERNET at a tasting event they ran. They had all their magnificent Dry Grown Clare wines there, but for me the Merlot Cabernet was the winner. It had a deep, dark, dense colour which still had some purple hues at four-years-old. The bouquet was really inviting, being soft and elegant with lovely florals and red berries.

The palate was surprisingly rich with lashings of delightful tight flavours, currently overawed by the acids and tannins, so that while it is a great wine to accompany rich food right now, it will need 3-5 years cellaring to show at its best as a fantastic standalone wine.

Wow, I would love to see more Merlot Cabernet blends of this calibre as they make a very tasty and versatile wine. LOVE IT!!

Have a great week and remember to enjoy #chooseaustralianwine and where possible #emergingvarieties

Winery Link: www.reillyswines.com.au