Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Bordeaux-Blend from Down Under

Yesterday was the second edition of the Wine Book Club, and we read about life in Bordeaux. This made me want a Bordeaux red wine in the worst way, but at the same time I didn't want to drink one from France. Does that make any sense? It probably does if you've read Noble Rot.

So I looked through my stash of wine and found a Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that was made Down Under by Greg Norman Estates. It's an interesting bottle because I bought it more than 2 years ago when it was on sale at BevMo for $9.99. I wanted to see whether a wine that cost less than $10 would develop with some short-term cellaring. So I tucked it away, and just opened it, and the results are in: this wine did very well with some cellaring, despite it's low price, and I actually think it could have done with another year or so of shelf time.

The 2002 Greg Norman Estates Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot from the Limestone Coast is a wine that I suspect would fool most drinkers into thinking it was a red from Bordeaux if tasted blind. ($9.99, Beverages & More; if you are looking for this now, expect to pay between $11 and $23) The wine was a nice garnet red in color, with the faintly pinkish brown edges known as "bricking." Usually, bricking is a sign that the wine has some age on it (in this case, 6 years from harvest). Opening this bottle of wine, I smelled aromas of bell pepper, cassis, and a touch of acetate. These are all true to the varietal characteristics, and Old World in style. Flavors of raspberries, blackberries, and a bit of green pepper appeared on the tongue, and there was a smoky aftertaste, with some herbal notes. The wine has a smooth texture--not syrupy by any stretch--and that little bit of glycerin quality that catches the attention of some professional reviewers. Very good QPR.

This wine would be much better with food than without. We had it with some grilled Greek-style lamb burgers and a spinach salad. The smoky richness of the lamb went nicely with the fruity core of this wine, and the herbal and pepper notes melded with the spinach and onion in the salad.

For under $10, and after 2 years in the cellar, this is a pretty nice wine, and certainly not an Aussie fruitbomb by any stretch of the imagination. I should also note that I put the cork back in it, left it on the counter, and didn't use preservative. Three days later, the wine was smoother, richer, more full of berries, and with less green pepper. This leads me to think it will continue to integrate and improve over the next 12-18 months at least.

It will appeal to lovers of Old World style wines, and give those looking for bargain Bordeaux-blends a chance to taste one. And, this wine proves that sometimes wines that don't cost much are still worthy of some short-term cellaring. Have you had any experiences with cellaring inexpensive wines? Please tell us about them in the comments.

7 comments:

Joe said...

Hi Debs. Nice pick - I liked this one so much it is one of my top 50 picks for cellaring. But I paid $25 bucks - at $11-23 this is a steal, and should be cellared.

Dr. Debs said...

Joe, how long do you cellar yours? I'm interested because this was cellared 2 years, but then it improved even more on the counter. 5-8 years of cellaring? Is that what you'd recommend?

Joe said...

Hi Debs. I had my last one at 4 years and it was ok after a decant, but 5-8 sounds better. I don't think it has a decade + in it, but this could surprise on the upside. We should revisit this in three years...

Taster B said...

Sounds like a fantastic recession wine at that price.

Alastair Bathgate said...

From Greg Norman? I suspect it would lead most wine tasting competitions until, at the last minute,choking and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory... ;-)

Dr. Debs said...

Thanks, Joe, for the answer and to the rest of you for the comments. Alastair, this wine was kind of opposite Norman's usual golf style--it got steadily better.

Joe Roberts, CSW said...

You know what - as ubiquitous as the Norman wines are, I've just realized I've yet to try one... need to put this on the list! Cheers.