Thursday, 29 March 2012

Still great value: Wirra Wirra Church Block 2010

Wirra Wirra Church Block 2010
'Check my bottle out'
Wirra Wirra Church Block 2010 (Mclaren Vale, SA)
14.5%, Screwcap, $24
Source: Sample

I wrote earlier in the year about how much I appreciate the superstar value and classic honesty of Church Block (you can read about it here) and I'm happy to say that this 2010 vintage iteration only helps to reinforce my opinions (and some).

Suffice to say that this is the best Church Block since the cracking 2004 (which is still drinking well by the way) and fulfills the Church Block dictum of a ‘smooth, soft red wine that balances the complexity sought by aficionados, with the approachability desired by those seeking pure drinking pleasure.’ with aplomb. Nice work 'Smithy' and 'Carps' (the Wirra Wirra winemakers).

Before I talk about the actual wine though, I want to quickly discuss glass. Glass bottles that is. More particularly, I want to draw attention to the new 'proprietary bottle' that this wine is contained in. A bottle with ridges and sculpted edges and rounded bits all designed help it stand out as being a Church Block firstly but also as from the Wirra Wirra stable.

What is really noticeable about this glass receptacle though is the weight - I had this red in a lineup of more conventionally bottled wines and had to do a bit of a double take when pouring from it. Was it slightly empty I thought? Was I drunk and had finished a glass without realising it (a large glass did go into spaghetti bolognaise). No, it's just lighter. Lighter - with no detriment to what is inside or to the quality of the packaging - and ultimately smarter packaging for the upcoming teens (yes, I said teens. Feels odd doesn't it). Anyway, I dip my lid to Andrew Kay MD of Wirra Wirra for the new bottle. Well done.

As for the juice itself, this looks happily Church Block in every way, leading with a rich, polished, Cabernet driven nose of vanillan dipped licorice and red/black fruit in that plummy, chubby Vale mode. It smells of oak, which is not surprising considering that 100% of this is barrel matured (though with only circa 15% new oak it's a feature - not the main character), yet in a proper sort of fashion, the oak used as a part of the uniform if you like, much like the way bankers wear dark suits pants (though that may just be the need to wear pants to cover up their pale legs).

Beyond the choc rounded nose, the palate looks approachable without being flat - slick and chocolatey and filtered and bright but also with fruit tannins and a bit of heft through the back palate too. It's just a fraction warmish and doesn't quite flow through the finish with precision - being more of a redcurranty tide than a proper punctuation mark - but I think that also is part of the charm (much like the sometimes cumbersome Penfolds Bin wines can be).

Ultimately though this is just a good Australian, genuine red (that can be picked up for well under $20). A wine of smooth lines, of fruit and oak richness, of warmth and body and a bear hug like enveloping weight. It's not especially savoury, nor sophisticated, nor particularly firmly structured (which is reflected in the score). It is though, quite simply, exactly what you would wish a Church Block could be. 17.3/90


  1. The glass bottle weight is interesting one. I haven't seen this bottle yet, but I've come across the much lighter bottle in a Ramos Pinto 20yr old tawny port and was surprised. I assumed that it was at least partially to do with shipping costs. I wonder if export costs are part of the reason for the change in bottle weight

  2. It would have to come into consideration surely...

  3. Love the review Andrew. Is this wine worth cellaring and for how long?


Love to see your comments! Don't forget to tick the 'notify me' box to get followups to your comment!

Don't miss out on a regular (most days!) email wrap of my latest posts: Subscribe Here