As December is fast approaching, it’s high time for a quick run-down of the November offerings from the Laithwaites Premiere scheme.
The Black Stump Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio 2016, SE Australia, 12.5%, £9.49
The Black Stump Shiraz is very familiar to me and also probably to the majority of Laithwaites customers as it remains ever-present in many mixed cases and is always at the top of their bestsellers lists. What remains a lesser known quantity to me is their white offering – a Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio blend.
Plantings of Pinot Grigio are still a rare thing to find in Australia and comprises a solid 35% of the blend here. The name ‘Black Stump’ comes from a mythical place in the Australian outback to which locals would remark that a quality product was “the best thing this side of the black stump”.
We have a different saying here in England, so let’s see if this wine is indeed the best thing since sliced bread!
The lemon colour in the glass sparkles with a lovely golden and warming hue. On the nose there is a broad range of aromas to pick up, a veritable compote of the warming ripened summer fruits promised by the golden colouring.
There’s touches of apricots, peach, yellow melon and pineapple, and I can also detect the green fleshiness of apple. Visible tears (another hint towards the well ripened fruits and sugars) rounds out the full appearance of the wine.
On the palate this is a ripe and citrus forward wine, with the freshness, grassiness and florality from the Pinot Grigio working with the weight and butter creaminess from the Chardonnay. Alongside the notable citrus you again get the full sensation of the tropical golden fruits. A good gloopy mouth-filling weight pairs well with the lovely tangy acid that runs throughout.
A touch of spice on the finish hints to an underlying complexity and I think this wine will evolve nicely with a little further bottle ageing. A good persistent finish, and a very nice wine.
Casa Rural 2012 (100% Tempranillo), Vino de la Tierra Castilla, Spain, 12.5%, £11.99
Castilla seems to be popping up a lot for me recently so I was very interested to see this bottle arrive. Even as recently as 5 years ago La Mancha in central Spain was known as a seriously hot flat central plain good only for growing workhorse varieties, but here we are with a pure Tempranillo reminiscent of the Riojan style of the north.
Grown at high altitude to counteract the heat and aged for 6 months in American oak barrels to flesh out the palate, this wine is very interesting to view in the glass. Most wines have a subtle difference between the central (core) part of the glass as opposed to the colour of the rim, but with this wine there was a wide distinction between the darker rim and cherry-light core.
On the nose there was light red cherry and redcurrants and a very defined florality. Kicking off with fresh violets, this then added the vanilla from the oak ageing and moved on to the confection of liquorice. Tertiary notes such as these are good indications of the ageing that has taken place.
For all of the power on the nose the actual body was, although medium, something of a lighter overall sensation and incredibly silky and smooth. The blackcurrant fruits were packed to the brim and followed by the redcurrants and cherry, and perhaps even a touch of strawberry. For all of the clean well ripened fruit this remained a light and airy wine, perfect for drinking on its own.
Lightly chewy in texture and retaining meaty and lightly leathery characters, the acid remained just less than medium and kept everything fresh. The florality carried straight through to the pleasant and medium length aftertaste, keeping this as an entirely respectable ‘higher than average’ priced wine.
Result: It’s hard to pick a winner out of these two wines as I like them both for different reasons. Happy that the scheme has thrown up two interesting wines instead of one, this month I’m calling it a draw. Happy drinking!