Buying wine for Father’s Day this year? Me too. I usually leave the buying of presents until the last moment and on Father’s Day end up quickly grabbing a bottle of something on the way to lunch. While I’m sure my dad would love to be given yet another bottle of rich shiraz, this year I was determined to put a bit of thought into the matter.
There are so many wine styles to choose from it was hard to narrow down the perfect wine for my dad, Martin. I reckon I’m not alone in finding it difficult to decide on the right wine as a gift.
First, I wasn’t sure whether to go for a new vintage of a wine that we’ve enjoyed together in the past or something that would be rewarded by a bit of time in the cellar. A bottle of Hunter Valley semillon is a great choice for ageability. It has an amazing ability to transform from a wine full of crisp citrus flavours to exhibiting toasty, honeyed characteristics after a few years resting in a cellar. But to be honest, I’d probably enjoy the wine more than he would. When he drinks white, nine times out of 10 it’s chardonnay.
My next thought was to buy a wine that would taste great from the get-go. It’s nice to have a glass with your dad on the first Sunday in September. A bottle of Margaret River chardonnay – presented cold, hoping he’d get the hint and open the bottle on the spot – with power and intensity typical of the region had me looking through my tasting notes.
Dad’s great wine love is shiraz, and it’s the wine that gives him the most pleasure. I thought of looking for something from overseas – a syrah from Hawkes Bay perhaps, or a bottle from France’s Rhone Valley. In the end I decided to stick within the land that’s girt by sea.
If your old man loves his cabernet, you could go with a Bordeaux, or if his poison is pinot noir, look for the burgundy section of the bottleshop. You’re looking at $30 for a decent entry-level wine from one of these regions.
I chose the Thomas Wines Motel Block Shiraz 2010 from the Hunter Valley. It’s drinking beautifully now and has years ahead of it if he chooses to cellar it. When he does open it, I hope I’m there to share it.
What to get the man with everything?
If a bottle of wine just won’t do, a subscription to a wine-related website is a good option. For years I’ve subscribed to The Wine Front (www.winefront.com.au and $43.95 annually) for daily reviews of new-release wines from Australia and abroad. Another favourite is the Red Bigot (http://redbigot.info and $36 annually), which tracks down the best daily red-wine deals going.
If your dad is a keen wine collector, why not give him a cellar assessment? People have serious money invested in their cellars, and a cellar appraisal will value the collection (also handy for insurance purposes) and provide advice about the wines to drink, sell and hold onto. Vinified offers a three-hour, one-on-one appraisal for $375 for up to 500 bottles, which includes values, optimal drinking times and cellaring advice. See vinified.com.au for more information.
Mac Forbes Hugh 2010
(Yarra Valley) $56; 12.5%
Named after Forbes’ father Hugh, with all the grapes – cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot – from a single vineyard in Gruyere. It’s elegant and perfumed, with blackcurrant and red-cherry aromas supported by subtle oak and bittersweet chocolate characters. Light in colour and body, it’s not lacking in intensity. A gorgeous mouthfeel and super-fine tannins lead to a generous finish. While it will benefit from a few years under its belt, right now it’s a compelling wine that’s hard to put down.
Food match \ Côte de Boeuf and chips
Ben Haines Syrah
(Central Victoria) $58; 14.4%
Haines earned his stripes at Mitchelton in central Victoria and knows more than a thing or two about the region. A joy to drink, this is a complex wine, with rich and luscious aromas and flavours of blackberry, blueberry, spice, violet, earth and toasty vanilla oak. It fleshed out over a few hours to reveal a layer of plum and graphite notes. It’s well-structured – fine-grained, grippy tannins are matched with bright and balanced acidity – and there’s a savoury herb note to the sweet berry finish that’s long and tasty.
Food match \ Grilled rabbit and Puy lentils
Thomas Wines Motel Block Shiraz 2010
(Hunter Valley) $50; 13.8%
From a dry-grown vineyard planted in 1967, this has seductive aromas and flavours of cherry, raspberry, blueberry, toasty oak and leather. It’s a pretty wine, too, which revealed extra layers of complexity the longer it spent in the decanter. It’s smooth, with a brilliant structure of firm tannins and zippy acidity that keeps the wine fresh. And then there’s the finish. It’s no powerhouse, but the core of savoury dark fruit and toasty flavours provides for a long, memorable exit.
Food match \ Slow-roast lamb shoulder
d’Arenberg DADD Sparkling Chardonnay,
Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier NV
(Adelaide Hills) $30; 11.7%
Named after winemaker Chester Osborn’s great granddad, founder of d’Arenberg, granddad and dad, this is a tribute to the d’Arenberg dads. It’s also the reason for the three Ds in its name. Rich tones of fresh-cut apple, brioche, lemon, grilled nuts and honey are full of delightful complexity. Smooth, with bright acidity, it’s a good choice as an aperitif or with pre-dinner nibbles. There’s quite a bit of competition in the market for $30 Australian-made sparkling, and this is one of the better ones.
Food match \ Smoked-salmon blinis
Love a bargain
Tower Estate Semillon 2011
(Hunter Valley) $22; 11%
Delicate and floral, its aromas of lemon zest, guava, citrus blossom and dust are quite alluring. A wine of real energy, there’s good intensity to its lemon, lime, new-season Granny Smith apple and mineral flavours. It has a smooth texture and a drying grip of chalky acidity that drives a finish that’s full of lemon. It’s drinking nicely now, but should be good for a few years in the cellar.
Food match \ Fresh-shucked oysters