Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bush Wine of the Week

OK, just because one is in the middle of nowhere is no reason not to be able to enjoy a good glass of wine. Or, in this case, a plastic cup!
Thankfully the wine industry is packaging more and more of it's offerings in so-called "eco-friendly" boxes, tetrapacks, aluminum containers and plastic bottles that make a sojourn in the "bush" more palatable. So I picked up a few to try out...
I'll rate them simply on a 0-10 scale, as I didn't take detailed tasting notes and, to tell you the truth, wine simply tastes better in the bush, so I don't want to mislead anyone who is used to my normal ratings.
OK, lets start with the crap. The Bistro Mundo series is a mundane string of mostly non-vintage, non-varietal labelled wines shipped in large containers to Quebec and then "bottled" here in tetra-paks. The Argentine effort is marginally better than the Spanish and gets a 4/10. The Spanish gets 3/10. Stay away from this series of wines, far away. There's much better ways to spend your $10 than this plonk. By the way, that's "Bens" DEET in the other container on the barrel lid...its for repelling mosquitoes and blackflies...don't even think of drinking that!!
Right, still on the crap side of the scale is the cutely named and "organic" Ciao, Sangiovese, Italy, no vintage. Tolerable, it gets a 5/10. Disappointing considering that for the same price, Farnese and Citra, amongst others, bottles much better Sangiovese. $12.70 for a litre.
Now its getting interesting. The purple packaged Three Thieves, Bandit, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007 is generically from California. It has a silver "most wanted" logo stamped onto it's label. Well, its definitely not most wanted, but it is drinkable. Actually tasted suprisingly OK. 6/10. $10.95.
Not much seperates the next two wines. The Turning Leaf, Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 is from the California Gallo line of wines. This is actually good wine, 7/10. The bargain of the week at only $9.95, again for a litre (all these eco-packages seem to be a litre - they say that the ligher overall package (wine and box/plastic bottle) weighs so much less than the glass bottle full of wine that the money they save on transport is passed on to us as 250 cc more wine...yada yada yada...
Now this stuff marks the transition - this is "proper" wine but in the new packaging. The Banrock Station, Shiraz, 2007 from Australia is good. A pleasure in the wilderness. 8/10. $13.75.

And now, the winner, by a landslide....BUSHWINE OF THE WEEK!!! Silver Leaf, Shiraz, 2007 from SE Australia. Full bodied, plush, oaky - a blunt instrument maybe, but reminds me of civilization. Boy, I could almost be back at home sitting in an easy chair sippin' this stuff. 9/10. $14.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


The fancy label siblings are from Chile - kind of ostentatious looking...the Terra Noble, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gran Reserva, 2005 is a softie - nice new world blackberry fruit, medium bodied, gentle with no hard tannins. Kinda cheap for a "Gran" Reserva too - only $17. Well, you get what you pay for, right? - it's an OK wine, no better. The twin is the Merlot, Gran Reserva, 2005. Much fruitier nose than the cab with brighter fruit - blueberries and cherries. Also medium bodied and soft. Both these wines are straight forward, the merlot is better at first but with time the cab takes over.
OK, now for the ugly siblings. These wines will be at the bottom of the price list in your wine store (unless you have a Trader Joe's where you can find 2-buck chuck). $7-8 gets you Farnese's Sangiovese or Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. The vintage I tasted was 2007, but it doesn't really matter - these guys seem to produce pretty much the same style of wine year in, year out. The Montepulciano is a dark wine (no cheapo see thru stuff here) with pepper, beef stock, plums and cherries. Medium-full bodied, it actually benefits from decanting and tastes better the next day. The sangiovese is also not bad. These are OK wines, you can use them as everyday drinkers, and much better value than the good looking siblings from Chile.
Slow-smoked turkey legs and pork loin...yum. The Joel Gott, Zinfandel, 2003 was overpowered by this lot. It was however a good aperetif wine - zippy, bright raspberry fruit, medium bodied, not a tannin in sight...good drinking zin from a value producer (less than $20). The Mas des Bressades, Cabernet-Syrah, 2004 was up to the challenge. This wine really needs food - it's a full bodied old world style with herb and animal flavours that mask any fruit. The tannins are smoothing out with a little age, but it still needs that fatty meat to shine. Good wine. Cheap too - only $16.