Bonzer bottles or a croc of ….? Australian 2012 shiraz tasting at the Mystere Wine Club, Cardiff.

My love of wine is well documented on this blog and my various social media feeds (Twitter, which I get but hate the cesspit it has become; Instragam, which is potentially more well suited to the sort of posts I do, but is where all the cool kids hang out and that certainly ain’t me and also I just can’t be arsed with hashtags, the picture sizing and god only knows what a reel is; and TikTok, which simply operates in a different dimension as far as I can tell).

So, after a bit of a hiatus during the first half of the year, I am back in the groove in terms of wine tastings and buying far too much wine for my own good!

As such it is time for another wildly popular wine post, you lucky people (not sure even my mum reads them – confirmed this weekend she doesn’t) with your (as readers of the blog) dislike of these wine post well documented in my stats.

My latest wine tasting was at Cardiff’s Mystere Wine Club (the lunatics have me on the club’s committee for reasons best known to themselves), with a look at shiraz wine from Australia and the rather fine 2012 vintage.

2012 bought a warm spring and a cool summer in Oz, with a lack of rain at the end of the growing season. This all led to lowish yields and wines noted for their “grace and intensity” (Wine Spectator).

Wine from this vintage are now regarded as drinking well, but with no rush to open them as they will keep (some I think for a long time yet).

So to the wines, which comprised of many of the superstars of the Aussie wine scene. The focus was on the Barossa Valley, but the tasting also encompassed the Adelaide Hills, Canberra and the Eden Valley wine regions.

Beauty of the Mystere Club this, with the wines obtained over time by the committee (often at very reasonable prices and stored by the club), either specifically for the club or by club members providing them from their own collections to fill gaps in tastings.  It is a system that has stood the test of time and works very well. As a result the club had a enviable collection of wines cellared which will sort us for tasting for many, many years to come.

Wine 1 – Glaetzer Anaperenna, Shiraz/cabernet Sauvignon, Barossa

Interesting label this, with the symbol being an ankh. This symbolises growth, regeneration and renewal, which seems quite apt for wine.

A shiraz/cab sauv blend, with the latter making up 18%, it had a dark garnet colour and little sign of ageing.

On the nose, it was distinctly meaty, with raisiney/pruney fruit.

On the palate it was quite dry, with a fair whack of acidity.

Big blob of rich dark fruit and then dark chocolate/cocoa powder and a touch of black olive. A slightly bitter and surprisingly short finish, it did integrate its whopping 15° ABV quite well.

Can’t say I really got the cab sauv in the blend.

Decent start to proceedings, if a tad one dimensional.

Price: £49

Wine 2 – Glaetzer, Amon Ra, Shiraz, Barossa

In theory, a step up in class in the Glaetzer stable and 100% shiraz. Being a fan of “Only Connect” (but being shxte at it) I love the “Eye of Horus” label.

Again deep rich garnet colour, with perhaps a touch more look of age than the previous wine.

On the nose it was meaty and porty, with a touch of brett (bit of the barnyard). I know many dislike brett, but if subtle enough I rather like it and here it wasn’t too intrusive in nature.

On the palate it was another black fruit bomb and quite sweet. I thought it still a tad young and lacking in subtlety.

Scored this marginally higher on the night than the Anaperana, but not sure why (especially when look at the respective prices).

Price: about £115 😬

Wine 3 – Charles Melton, Voices of Angels, Shiraz, Adelaide Hills.

I met Charlie Melton in Cardiff eons ago at a wine dinner and he made Mick Dundee seem a tad effete, with a tash that put David Boon‘s (at its most respendent) to shame. A top chap I thought and I also really liked his wines, with a fair few in my wine room including his top cuvee Nine Popes. As a result, I had high hopes for this wine.

Another wine with a deep garnet colour,

the nose was very porty in nature. Touch of floral in there and black pepper, but nothing that got me really excited.

On the palate, I found it very boozey and rather astringent. Touch of menthol in the mix, but I struggled to get anything really positive from this wine to justify its price. Joint lowest scorer for me on the night and all a bit disappointing based on my high expectations.

Price: About £50.

Wine 4 – Clonakilla, shiraz/ viognier blend, Canberra

Now this was more like it.

Noticeably lighter colour to this wine,

as against the rest of the pack (the impact of the voignier in the mix I assume).

On the nose it had a very distinct slately minerality, with tobacco leaf, cigar box and cedar. There was also a pleasing toastiness to it.

On the palate there was lovely red fruit, a hit of white pepper and floral notes. Only 13°abv, there was a lovely mineral freshness to this wine.

If I had tasted this blind (I am hopeless at blind tasting) I think I would have guessed it as a Cote Rotie and a good one at that. Apparently its making was inspired by a trip to Cote Rotie by the wine maker and a wish to replicate the style in Oz. I think the wine marker has done a pretty good job in that regard, if my jaded palate is anything to go by.

Lovely drop this and in my top 3 on the night

Price: About £90.

Wine 5 – Penfolds Magill Estate Shiraz, Barossa

Penfolds is one of those rare wine makers that has an offering pretty much across the whole price range. You can pick up a (reliable) Penfolds cab sauv or chardonnay from your local supermarket for less than a tenner or spend big, big, buck on their flagship Grange (the 2012 is £700 a pop).

The Magill Estate is not Grange price, but it certainly ain’t cheap and is at the very top end of most wine buyers budgets.

Deep red colour, with a crimson edge.

No signs of ageing here.

On the nose it was huge, with a massive hit of black cherry/kirsch. Like inhaling a black forest gateau. On the palate it had rich black cherry, chocolate/cocoa nibs (liquid black forest gateau without the overt sweetness), tobacco leaf and pepper spice.

Great length to this wine, with it coating the tongue and lingering for an age.

I nabbed the left overs of this bottle at the end of the night and drank it two days later. The delay and resultant exposure to air make it even better, amping up the fruit, with raspberry coming to the fore as well as a distinct maltiness.

Cracker of a wine this (just wish it was a tad cheaper).

Price: About £120 a pop.

Wine 6 – Grant Burge, Meshach, Shiraz, Barossa

Another deep rich garnet colour,

with zero signs of ageing.

On the nose it was huge with a glorious intial hit of freshly laid asphalt (a smell I adore). This was followed by more tarry notes and big dollops of dark fruit.

On the palate it was a Conan the Barbarian kinda wine. Huge and muscle bound, subtle it aint, yet it had a silky smooth mouth feel. Skip loads of black cherry and black pepper in the mix here.

Really nice balance to this wine despite its muscleman persona.

Top wine for me (and far from the most expensive wine) on the night.

Price: £99

Wine 7 – Yalumba, Octaviua Shiraz, Barossa

Same colour theme here, with little sign off ageing.

On the nose it was quite distinct, with an almost “bonfire on the beach” aroma (smokiness, with a touch of iodine in there).

On the palate it was quite sweet (actually disconcertingly so), with dark fruit, menthol and a touch of pepper spice and bacon fat. Oddly, despite its initial overt sweetness, as it lingered it became a touch astringent.

To me a definitely a step down in class from the 3 wines that preceded it.

Price: £75

Wine 8 – Henschke, Mount Edelstone Eden Valley

Forgot to take a photo of this wine in the glass, but recall the same dark theme.

Most expensive wine on the night and one that came with a formidable reputation. It gets a whopping 94 point average on Celler Tracker and the pro critics rave about it.

All seemingly lost on me am afraid as I wasn’t keen.

To me, it was way too sweet on the nose. I got raspberry embedded milk chocolate, but with the chocolate being a cheapy, sickly sweet cadbury’s shxte.

On the palate, I just found it all too much of a sweet fruit bomb. My notes on the night said “like being hit in the face by a blueberry sledge hammer – cartoon wine“. I thought it was all a bit Jessica Rabbit – seemingly very alluring on the face of it, but everything ramped up past the possible and probable.

Bigger isn’t always better in my book and this was my joint lowest scoring wine of the night.

It score very highly with other members on the night, so I was clearly out on a limb in being rather non plussed by this wine.

Price: £125 (😬)

The verdict

Really interesting tasting, with some excellent and intriguing wines.

The middle trio were the pick of the bunch for me, with my top three being:

  1. Grant Burge Meshach;
  2. Penfolds, Magill Estate;
  3. Clonakilla.

Tbe overall scores of club members on the night was slighly different to mine (as always), being:

  1. Grant Burge Meshach;
  2. Henschke, Mount Edelstone;
  3. Penfolds, Magill Estate

Many will think that the price of these wines is prohibitively high and I suspect some may go a tad stronger and say they are f’ffing ridiculous. Whilst I have some sympathy with this view and very, very, very rarely am I prepared to continance paying a ton plus for a single bottle, the beauty of being a member of a wine tasting club (like the Mystere Wine Club) is you get to taste wines like these for a fraction of the price they cost to buy. This tasting was a bargain £45 for 8 wines (with cheese and biscuits), only one of which retails for less than £50 and a fair few which retail for well north of a ton.

In addition you get a well research lowdown on the wines and region from someone who knows their onions (unless it is me presenting the tasting 😂), with @CFwino sharing his Aussie wine wisdom in this instance.

If that ain’t good value I dont know what is.


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