There is no tougher test for a wine than the thermos.
It’s now become an essential tradition for a flask full of red (and white in early autumn/late spring) to accompany us to evening games of AFL (#goswans), with the choice of what to drink now a serious decision.
After several seasons worth of trial and error, I think I’ve cracked the thermos formula too…
Critically, you need flavour. Aromatics aren’t that important given that the choice of stemware is either metal flask lid or plastic beer cup, but depth is crucial. Also, a little alcohol sweetness can be very useful, particularly for the mid-July game when you’re wearing two pairs of socks and can’t feel your nose.
In white wines that means Chardonnay is the natural pick, though the warmer March/September conditions usually mean you can also just get away with something refreshing (like a Hunter Semillon). Fuller styles of Chardonnay are still the first choice though.
For reds, the essential element is richness. Tannins can look harsh out of a metal flask, and acidity too. But fruit/oak sweetness (in balance, of course) will win you over every time.
As a result, I find the best thermos wines are warm climate reds with lots of generosity. Barossa/Clare/McLaren Vale Shiraz and Grenache blends (and the occasional Cab) work a treat, the chunkier styles of Hunter Shiraz too. Pinot can sometimes look thin when its 6C and the SW is blowing straight onto your legs, while riper Margaret River Cabernet generally looks good though astringent tannins can provide a challenge.
But McLaren Vale Shiraz like this Coates The Syrah? Nearly perfect.
Sourced from a selection of vineyards in the Vale, this was wild fermented and spent 20 months in barrel. Duane is quite particular about yeast, fining and tannin addition and that care/attention shows.
From the outset, this looks substantial. Inky purple coloured, there is a whiff of volatility (not noticeable when drinking out of a lid) before the lavishness kicks in. It smells (and tastes) sexy, with a seamless flow of grainy purple fruit, complemented by plush, coffee chocolate oak and a generosity through the middle. Unquestionably full bodied, but not overdrawn, there’s that sense of oak and fruit working together in a polished, ripe and cosseting form. Just a smidgen drying on the finish, perhaps, and a little simple, but so much to like about this wins, especially on a Saturday night at the football where it’s full charm was hard to ignore.
I’m not sure about the final price of this 2014 Shiraz, but given that the ’13 is currently selling for sub $20 in retail land, I can’t imagine this will be more than $30/bottle. I tasted it RRP unseen and assumed it would be more like $35, not closer to $25, making this smart stuff indeed – especially for what is Duane’s entry level Shiraz! 18/20, 93/100. 14.5%, $25?. Would I buy it? Yes.