Regular readers might recall I did a feature on the Wine Society's own wines not so long back (here:) and found them to be of superb quality and value. In addition to the basic "own label" range (although basic is the wrong descriptor) they offer some other wines that are bottled under the Society's name but known as the exhibition range. Described on the website thus; "Exhibition wines are selected to be flagship examples of their regions and styles and are frequently exclusively made for, or offered to, The Society by some of the world's top winemakers". Obviously these come at a slight premium when compared the standard own-range wines, but judging by what we tasted last time around, I thought they might be worth a look. Top winemakers' wines, re-badged and sold cheaper than their usual offerings? Sounds like a frugal opportunity...
The case that caught my eye was a 6-pack of the Society's Exhibition New World Classics, although a more accurate description would be something like "Australasian Classics" as the case is comprised entirely of wines from New Zealand and Australia! I can't for the life of me remember how much the case was (not very frugal I know, but "Do as I say, not do as I do" is what my mothers' overweight doctor would say...) but I will base it on individual bottle prices. If memory serves, they were about £11 or £12 each as a case-average, so yes, they are a bit more "upmarket".
Anyway, to the wines...Reds this week, Whites to follow next week:
This is made by Mount Langi Ghiran in the Grampians who produce some serious high-end wines, notably Shiraz. They've been there since the 1870's! Langi's vineyards are high and cool which should lend some Rhone-style spice to this and also a nice bit of bottle age being an '05! Looking forward to this...but a massive 15% could be hot...
The Look: Super-dark, black plum skin coloured, almost opaque and showing some lovely age with a red/brown rim.
The Smell: Lots of blackberry, smoky, pencil-graphite. Some more "reduced" raisiny hints and some complexity/secondary aromas from the age.
The Taste: Smoothly textured. It is hot but not obtrusively so (this is a big Aussie Shiraz after all!). Lots of concentrated blackberry, violets, raisins, and lots of oak. Nice acidity, bright red fruits appear also. A leathery complexity turns to delicious chocolate after a while.
The Score: Very good. Nice to see a bit of age showing through. 7.5/10. Recommended
VFM: This is £14.95 normally, so not on the cheap-side. VFM is mediocre at 0.50 but I would recommend this over a similar-scoring similarly-priced wine from a more recent vintage to taste the complexity.
This is made by Craggy Range. I must admit, I love the Syrah from Gimblett Gravels (one of the few wines to score 9/10) so I await this with baited breath. This is from the Southern tip of the North Island and very big for a Pinot at 14.5%!
The Look: A lovely translucent ruby red with plum-purple at its core and strawberry red at the rim.
The Smell: Smoky. Initially violets and blackberry. Alcohol is apparent. Blueberry. Meaty, peppery notes. Developed a smoky cherry niff too. Deceptive - smelling blind I would have said Shiraz!
The Taste: Smooth, silky texture. Too hot initially but did fade slightly. Opulent fruit, cherry, blackcurrant, peppery. Acidity is bright but balanced, not overpowering. Old, over-ripe, soft plum. Shiraz-like! Long finish.
The Score: It's nice, but confused? I really did question whether they'd put the Syrah in the bottle and mis-labelled it! Good if you fancy a BIG Pinot with a little difference? 7/10.VFM: This is £12.95 normally, so again, not cheap. VFM is mediocre at 0.54.
This is made by the same crew at Craggy Range but from Central Otago vineyards - probably the most revered of all NZ Pinot regions? Slightly more modest, but by no means shy at 14%!
The Look: D.A.R.K. Dark! Plummy, black-purple, not quite opaque, much darker than the Martinborough one.
The Smell: Oaky, smoky, blackberry, slight violet, alcohol, very similar but without the meaty-pepperiness.
The Taste: Lovely but again not typical Pinot finesse. Spicy cherry, black cherry and raspberry. Warming, not quite as hot as the Martinborough effort.
The Score: Again, very good but confused. Where is the finesse and silkiness? It doesn't detract from its delicious flavour but this could have been immense! If only... 7.5/10. RecommendedVFM: This is £12.95 also, giving a slightly better VFM of 0.58.
So there we have the Reds. All very good wines, the Shiraz I could drink again anytime. The Pinots I had trouble picking between them. Both shocked me in a way by being too big and hot. Maybe that's the way NZ Pinot is going, but I remember far more finesse and silkiness. Maybe it's just Craggy...? No way, that's sacrilege! Mental note: Try more NZ Pinot.
Anyway, next week: The Whites. Two from NZ (again!) - a Chardonnay from Kumeu River no less, and a Sauv Blanc from Hunters! Plus a Tasmanian Chardonnay who's producer escapes me but will be revealed next week...
Speak to you soon.