In this edition:
- Festive Glamour: When the festive season throws you an occasion, you need to glam it up.
- Andrew McUtchen looks for fun in cricket with former Australian cricketer Damien Fleming.
- Take a look at our Christmas Gift Guide.
There are so many wine styles to choose from it was hard to narrow down the perfect wine for my dad, Martin. I reckon Im not alone in finding it difficult to decide on the right wine as a gift.
First, I wasnt sure whether to go for a new vintage of a wine that weve 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, Id probably enjoy the wine more than he would. When he drinks white, nine times out of 10 its chardonnay.
My next thought was to buy a wine that would taste great from the get-go. Its nice to have a glass with your dad on the first Sunday in September. A bottle of Margaret River chardonnay presented cold, hoping hed 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.
Dads great wine love is shiraz, and its 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 Frances Rhone Valley. In the end I decided to stick within the land thats 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. Youre 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. Its drinking beautifully now and has years ahead of it if he chooses to cellar it. When he does open it, I hope Im there to share it.
What to get the man with everything?
If a bottle of wine just wont do, a subscription to a wine-related website is a good option. For years Ive 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.
(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. Its elegant and perfumed, with blackcurrant and red-cherry aromas supported by subtle oak and bittersweet chocolate characters. Light in colour and body, its 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 its a compelling wine thats hard to put down.Food match Côte de Boeuf and chips
(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. Its well-structured fine-grained, grippy tannins are matched with bright and balanced acidity and theres a savoury herb note to the sweet berry finish thats long and tasty.Food match Grilled rabbit and Puy lentils
(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. Its a pretty wine, too, which revealed extra layers of complexity the longer it spent in the decanter. Its smooth, with a brilliant structure of firm tannins and zippy acidity that keeps the wine fresh. And then theres the finish. Its no powerhouse, but the core of savoury dark fruit and toasty flavours provides for a long, memorable exit.Food match Slow-roast lamb shoulder
Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier NV
(Adelaide Hills) $30; 11.7%
Named after winemaker Chester Osborns great granddad, founder of dArenberg, granddad and dad, this is a tribute to the dArenberg dads. Its 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, its a good choice as an aperitif or with pre-dinner nibbles. Theres 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
(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, theres 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 thats full of lemon. Its drinking nicely now, but should be good for a few years in the cellar.Food match Fresh-shucked oysters