Undermining prejudices

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I think Richard is on a mission to undermine all my prejudices, firstly, Sauvignon Blanc and now Aussie Shiraz. On Friday, we sampled The Octavius, 05 vintage, from Yalumba in the Barossa Valley. Labelled at 14.5% ABV, it suggested power and sweetness, two elements I do not find particularly attractive in red wines.

The colour was black rimmed with red/purple tinges and obviously very alcoholic, judging from the windows left inside the glass. The nose had a wonderful menthol scent, fresh with slight blackberry notes, which was quite beguiling – it was getting better. In the mouth, it was very long and big in flavour but, thank heaven, without a ‘jammy’ finish and actually quite tart and clean. The tannin structure helped, as did the herby flavours. There was some sweetness but it was restrained and in balance with the acidity.

I enjoyed this wine, one glass was sufficient without food to accompany; it made me question whether my prejudices about Oz Shiraz are born out drinking too cheaply. It was expensive at £43.

[Richard: this was a Christmas present, about 5 years ago, from my father-in-law. I think it came from Laithwaites. They have moved on to the 2008 now (at £55). As Geoff suggests the cost of this bottle is rather too much for what you get but that makes it a perfect present – something you wouldn’t buy for yourself.

To my surprise this is the first Australian red we have blogged but thinking about it I can only recall a couple more (from D’Arenberg) in the cellar to try. How tastes change. Anyway, a very classy drink. Wonderful minty nose. Not an Aussie headbanger with the alcohol well integrated. Rich and flavoursome and a wine that could never be mistaken for a Rhone syrah. Went well with some lamb chops marinaded in garlic, thyme and rosemary.]

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