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If I'm in the mood to whine about Wetherspoons then no pun intended, it's usually about their wine selection or dirty tables if I'm feeling particularly vitriolic. Unlike their wide reaching and interesting selection of beers, the wine list tends to be composed of some rather safe and unobtrusive selections from big branded producers. However this does not mean to say big players in the wine market cannot produce a decent drop at the right price. I would put Wolf Blass Yellow Label Riesling, vintage 2005, firmly in this category. A bottle of this Antipodean white in 'Spoons will set you back £7.99-£8.99 (probably more in London but what isn't ?) but I thankfully had the use of a coupon that came from a booklet of 'Spoons offers which was shoved through my front door. This meant I parted with a frugal £5.99 which is probably what this bottle would cost full price in the supermarket and a friend and I had a cheap drop or two. If you prefer to buy by the glass then it was £2.79 for a 'medium' 175mL and £3.69 for a 'large' 250mL. I guess the 750mL bottle must count as an 'extra large' !
This Riesling is part of the Wolf Blass Yellow Label range which is very widely available in UK supermarkets/off licences and encompasses single varietal wines i.e. wines made from a single grape variety such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Shiraz etc. (I do have to admit I have not seen Yellow Label Riesling in any supermarket, though, so it looks like a rare beast). Wolf Blass sources grapes from all over South Australia for its Yellow Label range so this wine's area of origin is described on the bottle as 'South Australia'. Wolf Blass wines themselves have risen from humble beginnings Down Under to get world recognition and some serious big brand muscle. Wolf Blass was founded by one Wolf Blass, a German wine maker chap who migrated from Germany to Australia in 1961 in order to spread his viticultural wings. By 1969 he had purchased land in the Barossa Valley, now a vibrant hotbed of premium Australian wine, and by the mid-1970s was starting to win clutches of wine awards. This has led through to the modern day where Wolf Blass wines are exported worldwide achieving bludgeoning brand recognition which stalks international supermarket shelves. The Yellow Label range is only part of the Wolf Blass portfolio which encompasses basic, everyday gluggers in the Eaglehawk range all the way through to expensive, wallet unfriendly heavyweights in the Grey and Black ranges. The Riesling of the Yellow Label range was launched in Australia in 1975 and has proven to be one of Australia's largest selling Rieslings. Now let's see why !
The Riesling came in that tall, thin Germanic style of bottle that forever hints of the spiritual home of premium Riesling. As Wolf Blass seems to be a cutting edge brand it comes equipped with a screwcap so if you cannot finish the bottle you can easily take the rest home to sup at leisure. It came with surprise, surprise, a yellow label which was simple and clear in concept. Above this the eagle symbol of Wolf Blass was emblazoned.
I poured myself out a decent sample into the empty wine glass that lay expectantly before me on the pub table(which I had to clean myself typically) and saw a medium lemon coloured liquid. Fortunately 'Spoons do provide you with a decent enough glass to swirl and capture the wine's aroma so I took full advantage of this. It had a delicate and typically aromatic nose usual for a Riesling. I could detect some floral hints over a core of minerally and waxy nuances with some underlying citrus and honey notes. Despite being a couple of years old (vintage 2005) I could not detect any of those paraffin/petrol aromas that I so love in Aussie Rieslings which have been at least slightly aged. Darn ! I sure love the smell of unleaded in my Rieslings. This nose seemed to indicate a relatively light wine and this was indeed the case once the liquid had entered into my mouth. It had a very dry, light body with a fairly rounded and supple mineral feel. This had restrained citrus, floral and waxy flavours backed up by a medium acidity that proved to give the wine a pleasantly refreshing, cleansing and easy drinking feel. Overall, not particularly complex or lasting on the palate after swallowing but nevertheless in its price bracket fairly good and a good aperitif style of wine with a mdoerate 12% alcohol. In comparison to better and more expensive Aussie Rieslings unfortunately it does not have the depth of character or length. Additionally if you prefer a white with more intensity and/or weight then look out for a Chardonnay or New World Sauvignon Blanc instead (indeed the 'Spoons wine menu has a decent Kiwi Sauvignon in the form of a wine by Villa Maria).
Nevertheless no heavy complaints from me. For pub wine at a reasonable price it did the trick and a pleasant one at that.
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