Maybe it was my mood – dicky tummies all round chez Woods this week, probably the result of too much birthday cake (Isabella was 10 on Monday) . Maybe it was just the range of wines – a clutch of non-European reds that had been threatening to fall off the sample rack and create purple havoc on the carpet. But it’s a rare occasion when I open a dozen bottles of wine – some of it £20+ – without finding something I want to drink that evening. However, it happened this lunchtime…
There was nothing I could complain loudly about in any of the wines. Nothing corked (most had Stelvins), nothing faulty, nothing too ripe, nothing too green, but just nothing that made me want to swallow the wines rather than spit them into the sink. The list included three wines from Howard Park, formerly one of Western Australia’s top wineries, but on the strength of this trio (Leston Shiraz, Scotsdale Cabernet and the Cabernet/Merlot), struggling to keep up with others. There was Redbank, whose wines used to represent the best of Central Victoria. Admittedly it was Long Paddock rather than the superior Sally’s Paddock, but it didn’t make me want to trade up to the superior cuvée. There was Chapel Hill Shiraz from McLaren Vale, which was competent, better than competent, with bags of fruit and an earthy edge to boot. Good, but not what I want to drink – I want something with a little more soul. There were two reds from a Cape winery called Ondine, both promising but marred by the smoky rubber/bonfire edge which even my kids can spot. And from South America, there were a reduced*** Argie Cabernet and a a so-so Rapel Cabernet. A sign of just how banal the wines were is that the Blackburn & James Californian Merlot – £6.99 from the Co-op – was actually one of the better wines.
So I’m heading back into the cellar to find something I want to drink tonight. It will probably be a slightly faulty Old World offering, but so what? There’s too much clean and sterile wine – I prefer wine with a few battle scars.
*** ever smelt that odd rubbery/metallic fizzy smell (you know what I mean by a fizzy smell…?) that you get when you open a can of beer? That’s reduction – the opposite of oxidation, for those who can remember any school chemistry. In small amounts, it can benefit a wine, but in excess, it squashes the flavours.