Grant Burge Filsell Old Vine Shiraz 2013
When we go on holidays I usually buy a bottle of wine for quiet enjoyment in the privacy of a hotel room. The Gold Coast trip was not an exception and during a leisurely after-dinner walk I spotted a BWS shop which gave my thoughts a very specific direction, and my body a new trajectory — towards the said shop. It was an opportunistically located little place which was the size of our hotel lounge room and the beverage range skewed towards things that are habitually bought in six-packs rather than thoughtfully and severally selected.
They had just one rack of red wine, but I spent the next 10 minutes in a stupor of indecisiveness. The thing is, in the last few years I bought all my wine only after tasting, and only if I liked it. And here I was, staring at an array of unknown labels, having no idea what they tasted like, and at the same time my wife, the shopkeeper and the whole world were expecting me to make an informed choice. Stupefying!
True, some years ago I used to buy a “discovery” mixed six-pack of wines from Dan Murphy’s without much thinking. As the consumption usually took place at home there was always another bottle in a box which I could open if I didn’t like the first one. But on a holiday, in a hotel, late in the evening, the last thing I wanted to “discover” was that I bought crappy wine and all bottle-shops were closed.
Without the benefit of dégustation, I had to play by the ear. Firstly, I needed a decently priced wine. These days it’s a pretty safe criterion for me. In my first years in Australia, I often found myself at odds with winemakers’ opinions about the value of their wines. Eventually, and unfortunately, my taste adjusted and more often than not I find that pricier wines are of better quality than cheaper ones. So, a bottle had to be close to the top end of my usual price range. Secondly, it had to be a well-known winemaker. One reviewer, after tasting a boutique winery’s wine which smelled of broccoli, noted that some companies stayed small for reason. I believe that the same logic applies other way round and there is a good reason why a company grows and remains profitable.
|Name:||Filsell Old Vine Shiraz|
|Date of purchase:||24/07/2016|
|Date of tasting:||24/07/2016|
The bottle that I chose cost me 28 dollars and was from a respectable Barossa winery; it was called Grant Burge Filsell Old Vine Shiraz 2013. It wasn’t a completely safe choice as I struggled a bit with appreciation of Barossa Shirazes — I found them too dry and savoury. At the same time, “Old Vine” description promised good quality as winemakers maintain that older vines give more intense flavour. I tasted such wines several times in cellar doors and wasn’t convinced it was the case, but the curiosity and the expectation of a wonderful discovery prevailed again.
Having opened the bottle I confirmed my previous impression of Barossa wines — savoury. There was pepper, there was coriander, some other unidentified spices and even old leather — anything but fruit. And it was a wine which asked for food. I had some Biltong pieces as a snack but they just couldn’t match the bold taste of that Shiraz. The wine demanded some rich dish which would wrestle with it for access to my tastebuds and offset its still young tannins. In short, I needed a steak.
Conveniently, the hotel had a BBQ in the backyard, which I made use of three days after opening the bottle, and those three days made all the difference. Not only the T-Bone steak was a perfect match, but the wine itself opened up and was full of fruit. It took me a while to figure out what fruit it was, but at length I arrived at a conclusion that it was bird cherry, also known as hackberry, Prunus Padus and cheryomukha. This will hardly tell most people anything about the taste of the wine as bird cherry is rarely sold even in places where it grows, to say nothing about Australia. I ate it only once, during my school years, when I visited relatives in the country. They had a tall bird cherry tree whose branches were sagging under the weight of ripe fruit, and I spent many a happy hour on that tree helping myself to a rare treat. Little did I know that the next time I would experience that taste again, it would be in Australia, in liquid form, and sealed in a randomly selected bottle of Barossa Shiraz.