Saturday, 14 August 2010

The Wine Rules: 6: Bold Aussie reds batter the senses - beautifully


It's not been a happy time recently for sports mad Aussies. 

Heath Wines' 
Lizard Flat Shiraz -
as Aussie reds should be
Humbled - humiliated is maybe too strong a word but worth putting down on paper anyway just to see it in writing - in the cricket by Pakistan, and humiliated - humbled is probably too weak a word - at home by New Zealand in the rugby, they are clinging to the sporting hopes of Mark Webber, currently leading the drivers' table in Formula One motor racing. 

Fittingly, having occasionally also lost their way in wine-making, it is a former racing driver Alan Heath who is leading Australians to a return to form through a couple of bolshy big red wines that typify traditional Aussie sporting values. 

Wines that, like Heath Wines' Chief Winemaker and former Aussie Rules footballer, Nick Walker, just never give up. 


Lizard Flat Shiraz is a massive punchy deep crimson red wine. It clings to the glass as if giving up its alcohol with the utmost reluctance. On the nose it's packed with over-ripe blackberries and warmed plums with sharp cinnamon.  Hot black pepper and dark spice is immediate on the palate, which is full to bursting with intense black fruit flavour, terrific weight and a lasting finish. 

The 2004 has a lovely maturity to it as the fruit begins to gather some Autumnal tones. Delicious stuff. And at 14% ABV exactly the kind of powerful wine we always used to associate with Australia. 

This is how Aussie reds should forever be. Forget for a moment the finesse of the Margaret River. Australia built its reputation on overblown whites and blow-you-over reds and this is a distinctive return to form. In your face, have some of that, fall-over the barbie boozing. Wine Spectator rates in 88 points.
Southern Roo kicks
like a Red Kangaroo 

But there's more. 

Fittingly, its big sister is the fullest, fattest, flaming red style that Australians truly made their own. 

Gold medal-winning Southern Roo 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz bowls you over like one of Brett Lee's 99-miles-an-hour bouncers. Labelled 14.5% ABV, you get every degree of alcohol on the nose, the palate and the finish. 

You can see it in the glass, a glistening silvery rim of the meniscus giving your eyes fair warning of what's about to hit your tastebuds. Darkest carmine, with black cherry scents and obvious raw cocoa, it's as full-bodied as you'd expect, still offering a nip of ripe tannin but with bags of lush and highly spiced, oaky dark mature warm fruit and a smooth peppered finish.

And that's the big secret to both these wines. For all their brashness, their boldness, their sheer true blue ballsyness, they also offer some of the dexterity, the guile and the soft subtle sleight of hand that made Shane Warne the greatest bowler ever to turn an arm.

Both wines are available online in the UK from Red Wine White Wine who also offer really good representative mixed cases.

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