Charlemagne Wine Club - 2016 Tastings

Monday 15 February 2016

Rhone-ing Around the World presented by David Carter

In February we tasted the classic Rhône grapes Viognier and Syrah....

The three Viogniers showed the great variation of styles the grape can offer. All were grown on granite soils, the two French examples were reared just a stone’s throw from the Condrieu appellation, natural home of the variety. Australian Peter Bright’s portuguese offering showed a broad palate of tangerine and apricot fruit while Yves Cuilleron’s was lighter and crisp on the palate with delicate apricot. Pierre Gaillard’s version showed more complex flavours from its lees contact and oak ageing.
The five Syrah were selected to show cool climate characteristics, with the Cornas acting as a stylistic control. Guy Farge’s “Harmonie” was awarded a gold medal in the sommelier awards and it was easy to see why. Still very young, unfortunately, but all components were ripe and balanced. Rich blue/black berry fruit backed by soft tannins and pepper spice and typical Rhône acidity/minerality. The Qupé vineyards are located on the California coast midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. This entry level selection was fresh and well balanced with a juicy black fruit attack.
Syrah from New Zealand? Isn’t it better for Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir? Watch this space! The Gimblett Gravels in Hawke’s Bay, a warmer region on North Island, produces quality red wines and Syrah is set to be a star. This top selection from the Crossroads winery has rich smoky aromas, complex dark berry and pepper flavours. Silky palate with a long soft spicy finish.
Australia is renowned for its Barossa Valley Shiraz, a big juicy monster but there are other parts of the country where conditions can produce a different style of wine. Rhône producer Michel Chapoutier has been producing Shiraz in Australia for over a decade. Shays Flat is one of his vineyards around Heathcote in the high Pyrenees region of Victoria. Supple, delicate and ripe tannic structure supporting flavours of dark cherry and blackberry with long spicy finish. Remaining at altitude, we finished with Haskell Aeon farmed on the slopes of the Helderberg mountain in Stellenbosch. It had to be a quality wine as the bottle was twice as heavy as any of the others! Actually it was good. Fragrant, aromas of red fruit and spices. Elegant, fresh, plum and blackberry fruit. Well rounded and savoury palate with soft structural tannins.
What was noticeable with these wines was the care that went into their production. Sustainable growing with minimal intervention. Careful winemaking. Even biodynamic practices. The wines responded well.

The wines we tasted: Where two prices are shown, the first is list price and the second is a sale discount.
1: Terra D’Alter Viognier 2012 Alentejo, Portugal (9.95) Lea & Sandeman
2: Pierre Gaillard Côtes du Rhône “Les Gendrines” 2014 France (18.75) Lea & Sandeman
3: Yves Cuilleron IGP Collines Rhodaniennes Viognier “Les Vignes D’À Côté” 2013 France (18.50) (15.95) Great Western Wine
4: Domaine Guy Farge Cornas “Harmonie” 2012 France (34.50) (27.50) Great Western Wine
5: Qupé, Central Coast Syrah 2012, USA (22.00) Oddbins
6: Crossroads, WineMakers selection Syrah, Hawkes Bay, 2013 New Zealand (19.95) (16.95) Great Western Wine
7: Domaine Tournon, Shay’s Flat Shiraz, Pyrenees, Victoria, 2009, Australia (23.00) (8.99) Dallas Liquormart, West Ealing
8: Aeon Syrah Haskell Vineyards 2008 (20.25) Lea & Sandeman