Champagne Taittinger Brut Resérve NV $50–$60
With a little more chardonnay in the blend than most NV’s (40 per cent versus about 33 – the remainder pinot noir and pinot meunier), good old Taitts giggles on the light and cheery side of Champagne, with seemingly little lees-aged character. Nevertheless, it’s a lovely, delicate aperitif style with the lightness of chardonnay and yummy brioche-like nuances of pinot meunier, the lesser of the two pinots, but indispensable nevertheless. Pinot meunier tends to fill the frost-prone dips in the Champagne region and is more fruitful than pinot noir in this situation as it buds later, giving it better odds of missing the chill.
Chianti Classico (Corte Carista) 2009 $10
Aldi’s Tuscan import takes us well away in style from Australian wines made from the same grape variety, sangiovese. It’s light to medium bodied, taut, bone-dry, earthy and savoury with its cherry-like fruit flavour buried well inside the fine, firm tannins. Like all the Aldi wines I’ve tried to date, it fits the specification, offering very good value for money. The withered little cork snapped in half as we coaxed it from the bottle. But at least the wine emerged clean, fresh and untainted by the cork – something drinkers always risk with this outmoded seal.
Tscharke Barossa Valley The Potter Garnacha 2011 $24
Barossa winemaker Damien Tscharke favours the Spanish ‘garnacha’ over the French ‘grenache’. But call it what you will, it’s a variety long established in the Barossa’s Marananga sub-region where it works as well in fortified wine as it does in table wine. We tasted the 2011 at cellar door in July, where the staff told us Tscharke had “picked it [the fruit] early in this shitty season”. Indeed, miserably cold, wet weather destroyed much of the Barossa’s crop that year. Tscharke, however, succeed in making an attractive, spicy, peppery red, albeit lighter, more savoury and less fleshy than usual, but one we enjoyed.
Copyright Chris Shanahan 2013
First published 1 September 2013 in the Canberra Times