Firstly, kudos to Houghton for the packaging – the labels, the polished screwcap, the vertical arrows on the capsule, the whole lot looks fun. A graphic artist went nuts with these labels and the result is rather good work. The blends are switched on too.
Houghton ‘The Bandit’ Sauvignon Blanc Pinot Gris 2008 (Western Australia) Screwcap, Approx $19
Green and very bright, the green bottle only highlights the brightness. The nose is all Savvy – its herbaceous, pungent and slightly volatile, but with a musky passionfruit edge, the Pinot Gris component largely hidden behind youthful Sav. The palate is soft, very young, with green tart acidity sticking out on the back end, the fruit is lemon citrus, with some pawpaw fruit. The palate is fleshy but dry (and still raw in its youth), unashamedly one dimensional and grapey, with again the only input from the Pinot Gris likely to be some green apple richness.
Pristine freshness and simple fruit, its quite an enjoyable drink for the upcoming summer. Well done Houghton. 16.9
Houghton ‘The Bandit’ Shiraz Tempranillo 2007 (Western Australia) Screwcap, $19ish
Shiraz Tempranillo – France vs Shiraz, a Mediterranean coupling that’s appearing more frequently in recent years, but still there is little precedent (Though Julian Castagna swears that his Mediterranean Sangiovese Shiraz is his best blend). There will be struggling with the pronunciation of Tempranillo though. I can envisage people walking into a bottle shop and saying ‘Houghton Bandit red thanks’.
Anyway, this is a bright purple colour, tending mulberry. On the nose its raisins, vanilla oak, raspberries and wet bricks. Its a simple, slightly volatile & very youthful nose and suggests sweet berry fruit, but there is enough deeper interest to warrant a closer inspection. On the palate it’s way too young, but surprisingly full in its structure, with grainy tannins closing the package off. There is a little of the dried meat character of Tempranillo in there, but otherwise its Shiraz that creates all the interest here, giving the sweet berry generosity. The finish is a little hard, with oak tannins that linger long after the wine is gone.
I’m not taken by the blend, but I like the cutting edge inventiveness. This wine needs some time in the bottle to come together, but even then it may be just a little awkward. 16+