I’ve always wondered why sparkling red is viewed with disdain by some Australian wine writers. It seems curious to attack a style that is very much our own, works well with our climate and tastes superb. Odd, and unexplainable. Hunter Semillon similarly receives underwhelming support, as witnessed by how little top Sem gets drunk at wine show dinners (just Burgundy, thanks).
The Primo Estate Joseph Sparkling Red is the genre of red fizz that we should be celebrating, too. It’s a master stock of a wine, that couples the punch and power of young McLaren Vale Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz with a treasure-trove solera of old Aussie wine things.
That solera alone – which famously includes much epic Australian ‘port’ and a pallet worth of old Grange – could qualify for National Wine Treasure status. You could place it up there with James Halliday’s eyebrows and Peter Gago’s love of ridiculous adjectives (read the official Penfolds tasting notes for those gems).
This Primo Estate Joseph Sparkling Red 2016 (disgorged mid last year) is a joyful wine, too. A wine of joy, to be drunk with or without Christmas ham (it’s bloody good ham wine).
I opened a bottle of this on Christmas Day – because that’s what I do on the 25th December – and from the first frothy maroon splash everyone was hooked, again. That decadent, powerful, hedonistic McLaren Vale choc plum swagger from the recent vintage components, tempered with a bonbon worth of extra bits. Think licorice, fruit cake, that smell of brickdust which all old South Australian reds all seem to have, roast beef and more. It’s a measured punch of rich Aussie red wine flavour, with sweetness yet not excess sugar, the fizz a softening touch before notable, ‘sparkling wine ain’t meant to have these’ tannins.
To be honest I couldn’t tell you whether this is a particularly good disgorgement, just because I haven’t tasted a well-stored bad one (and I’ve had a few vintages). All I know is that this is delicious vino, with a great story and an unrivalled uniqueness. Heck it even comes in an awkward-yet-awesome massive phallic bottle too. Why aren’t wines like this put forward as our icons?