$700 (approx), (Beautifully long) Cork, 15.3%
|Chris Ringland Shiraz 2000|
I mean, I can string sentences together - and even occasionally say the right things - but I can't shake a sense of disquiet, a nagging unease that comes from an inability to fully articulate certain thoughts and emotions.
In the case of this wine, the unease comes from brain overload, from a confluence of conflicting ideas that I'm struggling with enough to rewrite this introduction at least ten different times.
But why the commotion? It's just a wine right?
It's just a wine, true, but it's a wine that is, to put it impolitely, fucking with my prejudices.
For, as anyone who has read a few posts on this website may have gathered, I've got an alcohol prejudice. In my little world, I see (or taste) obvious alcohol in table wines and call it a fault. But, and here's the rub, I'm starting to realise - with thanks to wines such as this - that said prejudice is hobbling my judgement. That whilst 'heat' is still not something I prefer, alcohol itself is not the demon I've been proclaiming it to be.
Which brings us (sort of) back to this Shiraz. The Chris Ringland (née Three Rivers) Shiraz is a wine that sits at the pointiest part of the pointy end of the 'Parker wines'. It's a wine that has - on more than one occasion - received full marks from His Bobness, and was at one point the most expensive Australian current release red wine on the market.
This particular bottle of said 'Parker wine' (it received a 96 by the way) was brought out of Chris' cellar (note the 0000 bottle number - all of Chris' private stock is labelled as such) on Sunday afternoon, hauled out simply as Chris' feels that it's drinking pretty nicely now (after a 6 hour decant).
But what threw me, what inspired the whole long winded introspective trip, was that whilst this red weighs in at 15.3% alcohol, the wine itself was structured, long and quite vibrant, an utterly delicious Shiraz that totally defied my unspoken 'nothing over 15% alcohol can be balanced' dogma.
It even came from a dud vintage to boot.
It's a wine that I didn't expect to be returning for a second glass of. A wine that I wanted to dislike, just to help satisfy my beliefs. But I didn't. I just drank it, and liked it. That simply.
When it came time for the refill of my glass I paused, struck by the thought that maybe I was just stuck in a moment, wooed by the significance of drinking a famous wine in the company of a famous winemaker. So just to be sure I wrote the following (raw) tasting note as objectively as possible.
'Molasses, licorice and black fruit in an unquestionably ripe frame-set. Palate is firm and warm but not hot. Persistent black fruit. Very long. Surprisingly long. No dehydrated fruit through the finish either. Length! Lots of oak in there. Finish is ungenerous. Still such an impressive wine. 18.3/93'
What I like is that (in the note above) I still picked out the wobbles and scored it accordingly. It's ultimately a very good wine, but not a great one.
The quality is secondary though. The benefit here is the lesson. Once again I realise that wine really is the most movable, variable, extraordinary and plain challenging product on the planet.
And I love it.