27 April 2011

Campbells 2006 The Brothers Rutherglen Shiraz

On my second day in London, I quite literally ran into Liam Gallagher on Hampstead Heath. No, I wasn't on a cruising mission with George Michael (although I did notice a suspicious bearded man in a leather jacket crouched in the bushes calling out for Jimmy - I think it must have been his dog).

No. Believe it or not, I was actually taking an early morning jog (walk...) around the Heath.

For those who know me well, the preceding sentence will have conjured up two reactions.

The first will be out-and-out surprise at my claim to have been moving above walking speed. Admittedly, I have not pounded a pavement in anger since... well, let's just say it was 10 kegs and a long time ago. But here I am, back in sunny (I know, I laughed too) London, and determined to engineer a kind of reverse Heathrow injection. So, stop sniggering and get over it.

The second reaction will undoubtedly be jealousy at the fact I have just been within head-butting distance of the lead singer of what was the world’s greatest band. I am Australia’s foremost Oasis tragic, it's true. But since Liam threw Noel’s toys off the stage and broke up the band, I have declared my allegiance to the elder brother, and my undying enmity to Liam.

So, there I am, rounding the Highgate Ponds, when I am affrontingly confronted by the beady eyes of "our kid" Liam all dressed up in his dandy running kit and a naff hoodie.

Bizarrely though, as he ran towards me, I could see what appeared to be a large red stain on his chest. Either he was suffering a bad case of jogger's nipple, or else it was that time of month and my long held suspicions about what lay at the heart of the man had been confirmed.

I nodded/waved to him (begrudgingly). He ran straight into my shoulder.

“See you next Tuesday”, I shouted after him. And I meant it.

I gather that he understood my insult because he half-stopped and turned. I suspect he would have come back and glassed me had it not been for the long lens of The Sun poking out of the bushes (at least I think it was a camera, but on the Heath you can never be sure).

Anyway, as you might imagine, I was pretty keen to dine out on my brush with celebrity and did so that very night while catching up with some old friends.

When the wine list was proffered, the feuding brothers Gallaghers were still fresh in my mind, and the bottle of Campbells "The Brothers" Rutherglen Shiraz 2006 immediately caught my eye. And, I'm glad it did.

First things first. The price was 32 squid. In a pub. Which is less than the list price from the cellar door. Got to love the strong Aussie dollar.

After a couple of cleansing pints, this was just the ticket to go with my pie and mash. Even the Poms we were eating with had to agree it was a ripper, despite their inherent snobbery and preference for Froggy wine.

It's a big-looking deep purple and gives off an absolute load of savoury spice. Despite first impressions though, it's a relatively mild-mannered fellow and is certainly not a big, hot shiraz in the Barossan mould.

Don't let that description fool you though. It's packed full of flavour, no doubt, but it is not going to blow your head off. Which is a good thing.

In the mouth, it's a fist fight of raspberries and Easter eggs all wrapped up in a velvet glove. It's a rewarding drop, with length and class written all over it, and at the same time is so fabulously smooth and finely balanced that you barely notice the whack of alcohol at all.

This is a great wine no doubt. It should keep on keeping on too, so I will be getting some for the cellar when I get back (although it might be cheaper to import it from the UK...).

Campbells and Rutherglen wines are generally better known for their fortified offerings, but this wine is testament to their table wines skills also.

Show it some brotherly love, and pick up a bottle today.

Rating: 9
Drink with: Noel
Price: $60 (but offensively cheap overseas)

14 April 2011

Riecine Chianti Classico (2003?) and Cordero di Montezemolo Nebbiolo d’Alba (2008?)

There is an epidemic of procreation currently sweeping through my circle of friends. Another week, another child - or two, or three, or four.

Recently, the impending (and now current) parenthood of some close friends meant that I was called into action to participate in the lesser-known spectacle of the “daddy-shower”.

So, while the ladies were at the babyshower-proper getting busy hazing the foetus, scarfing cake, and tickle-fighting (or whatever other secret women's business is conducted on these occasions), us lesser-halves went to a good restaurant and drank solidly for the afternoon.

Because the daddy is a recently converted Italianophile, after lunch we washed up at nearby Enoteca 1889 where the owner generously opened up a table for us between services and took us through a selection of his wares.

We started with a Nebbiolo from Cordero di Montezemolo in the Piedmont region. For reference, if Puglia is the heel of the Italianate CFM boot, then Piedmont is the sweet inner thigh at the very top, nestled as it is in the mounded foothills of the Alps and the Apennines.

This nebbiolo pours out with a delicious shade of Ruby Heartstealer red, and one whiff leaves you in no doubt that this baby has more body than a Berlusconi Bunga Bunga. The drinking is a doncamatic beatdown of brute force and raw earthiness. It was perhaps a little closed, but then again it was very young (2008 I think) - which may be alright for the likes of Silvio, but I tend to prefer a little age both in wine and in women. My advice: give it another year or two, and stay out of jail.

We moved on then to freshen up proceedings with a nice little Tuscan Chianti Classico by Riecine (2003, I think – it was a long session). This was the out and out winner for me on the day.

It was as perky as an angry nipple and similarly coloured. I liked it immediately.

It’s a medium-bodied Sangiovese-based wine made in the usual way, and it reminded me a lot of that odd (but delicious) combination of strawberries dipped in balsamic vinegar. Fresh and lusciously fruity, with a long, spicy fistful of tannic punch to round out each mouthful. The nose was young, plum, and full of come-hither aromas that demanded extended nostril time.

The other nice thing about Tuscan wine is that they claim not to use sulphides, and so, supposedly, Tuscan hangovers are just that much nicer. It’s a theory I can happily vouch for because, despite consuming a skinful and falling into a coma that resembled the sleep of a thousand dead camels, I woke up fresh as a daisy the next day.


e cent' anni, di bambino Luca.

Riecine Chianti Classico (2003?)
Rating: 9/10
Drink with: a plate of liver and some fava beans
Price: $47 (retail from Enoteca 1889)

Cordero di Montezemolo Nebbiolo d’Alba (2008?)
Rating: 8/10
Drink with: Karima El Mahroug
Price: $51 (retail from Enoteca 1889)