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Loads of us Brits love Australian wine for the loveable, forward, brash fruit nature it has brought to our national palate. Combined with easy to understand, clear labelling then it is no wonder that Aussie wine has claimed a large proportion of market share in the UK. However there are times when the Old World can teach its more modern and forward-looking New World cousins a thing or two. A wine I picked up in Tesco recently really helps to illustrate this point.
Berton Vineyards Penny Farthing Old Vines Shiraz/Viognier is actually made from a combination of a red wine (Shiraz) with a white wine (Viognier) ! This may sound bizarre but French winemakers in the Cote Rotie (literally ‘Roasted Slope’) area of the Northern Rhone Valley sometimes add a little Viognier (usually around 5% or so) to their Syrah A.K.A Shiraz, to soften the body slightly and give it a delightfully exotic fruit hinted perfume. The Aussies who produce Shiraz in abundance have cottoned onto this idea and have started producing their version of this Rhone classic.
Berton Vineyards who are an up and coming wine maker have produced this Shiraz/Viognier from fruit sourced from their South Australian vineyards near the Eden Valley which in itself is famous for Riesling wines. Apparently the fruit comes from ‘Old Vines’ which in itself is not a legally binding term but generally means the vines are likely to over 20-30 years old. Older vines generally produce lower yields of higher quality fruit hence the urge winemakers sometimes feel to plaster this term on their labels. I’m unaware of the actual amount of Viognier added to the Shiraz but it’s probably in the region of 5%.
I sampled a bottle from the 2004 vintage at the reasonable cost of £4.99. Attractively labelled unsurprisingly with a penny farthing bicycle the bottle provided me with an extremely lively and drinkable liquid to help me unwind with at the end of the day. This unwinding process was unwittingly and speedily helped by the whacking 14.5% alcohol level which was well hidden on the palate !
The Viognier added a very noticeable and attractive peachy, tropical fruit edge to the wine’s aroma which sat really well upon the black fruit aromas provided by the Shiraz. Indeed it almost made the nose of the wine smell quite candied. I really did enjoy the mouth wateringly juicy and lively body of this wine with its peachy hinted dark berry fruit and soft tannins. Considering the age of the wine and price the fact that it is still so lively on the palate is a credit to this wine. It’s not going to win any awards for vast complexity but for sheer drinkability and novelty I would certainly recommend this wine and well as being so, so easy to glug. Maybe those ‘Old Vines’ have really showed their worth ! Due to its lively and full flavoured nature this wine would probably be also good with something from the barbeque.
Lastly if can get it at a discount and you’re a lover of Aussie Shiraz and Shiraz blends then in my opinion you really have a bargain to slot in your wine rack !