“There are a large number of elements that I look for in a wine, some everyday but objective, others more subjective,” writes wine columnist RICHARD CALVER.
RECENTLY, I was invited to the “Meet the Makers” wine tasting at the QT Hotel in Civic run by Cellar Masters.
This was the second time I had attended this now annual event and it is great to be able to taste a large array of wines and meet some of the people behind their production.
I went with a female friend who is also on the board of M16 Artspace. She is much younger than me and taller and far more attractive than me, as well as being better dressed (I look terrible in a skirt). During the course of the evening, a woman who might have had a few more tipples than was wise came up to me and said: “Wife or daughter?”
“Both,” I said as I walked away, happy to leave the woman confounded.
Often, driven perhaps by asinine comments/questions of this kind, I am sympathetic to the sentiments in a tweet I read on the internet: “Life is a constant balancing act between wondering why you weren’t invited to something and wondering how to get out of it.” So, relatedly, I suppose that’s why Woody Allen is attributed with saying that “Showing up is 80 per cent of life.”
We showed up. I explained to my companion, perhaps too didactically, that there were a large number of elements that I would be looking for in a wine, some everyday but objective, others more subjective.
These are the wine’s name, the winery, the variety (or varieties where it is a blend), the region and the vintage (year). I would then look at the colour, which ranges from clear to brown, and the viscosity and then would only swirl the wine in my mouth after I had placed my ample nose deeply in the glass to get the odours clear.
The swirling of the wine in the mouth well before swallowing is to see where on the spectrum of tastes it sits, noting that this is not a progression but more a circle where you sip two or three times after long sniffs of the bouquet to assess sweetness, minerality, the level of tannin (does it take none, a small bit or all of the spit out of your mouth?) and whether there are tastes that are discernible, such as red or black fruit or citrus or leather or less pleasant smells/tastes like a mud flat at low tide or a visit to Rotorua.
In response, she informed me that her main criterion was the time of day.
“What?” I asked.
“Well,” she said, “some wines are day wines, some are night wines and there is a different wine for each time of the day.”
Quite coincidentally, Nick Whiteway from Altero Wines described his range of mostly Italian style red wines from the Fleurieu Peninsula in Adelaide as “lunchtime” wines. This is because they were light and refreshing and made with lower alcohol than the Australian red styles epitomised by big Barossa shiraz.
I was particularly taken with the Altero 2018 Sangiovese, which showed a good balance between sour fruit and medium tannins with a good clean acid finish.
My companion was also impressed, saying the wines produced an idea of a long lazy lunch where Italian food kept coming and the wine could even be slightly chilled.
The next wines that evoked her image of time of day were the white wines from the Stefano de Pieri winery. I have had two fabulous meals at Stefano’s restaurant in Mildura where the emphasis on quality local produce and local wines was worthy of approbation.
We tried the 2018 Merbein Vineyard Fiano. This varietal is not my favourite but at $13 a bottle, if ordered on the night, was very good value. It is a light, fruit-driven wine with a hint of pear and an acidic finish.
“Ahh,” said my companion, “a breakfast wine, something to have with bacon and eggs.”
I laughed: it felt good to get out of the house.