G’day guys and a warm welcome to my first wine tasting article on my site. And like my first article, I could have easily gone and treated myself to one of big famous import names that are available worldwide in every posh restaurant and hotel, but make a point in supporting the local man first and foremost. And it would take a bit of looking around to get any more local than this. This wine comes to me from the Granite Belt, the wine region just an hour or two west of the Gold Coast inland higher up in the hills.
The reason why I’m using this Queensland label for my first wine article is simply because I’ve been there. Christmas last year I was on a tour of the Granite Belt wineries, clearly I fancied this label since I bought a bottle of it to put away for a few years. I don’t really remember much more, mostly because it was a year ago, also because I spent an entire weekend drinking wine, but I don’t remember doing a nudie-run or being arrested so obviously nothing bad happened. But all jokes aside, the word going round on domestic wine is Queensland wine is extremely underrated, perhaps due to the rich soil. The wineries of the Granite Belt specifically brag about their terroir, that their higher altitude above sea level provides a cooler climate than the rest of Queensland and the crushed granite soil provides great drainage and acidity for the grapevines, and that these climatic and horticultural factors are parallel to those of the northern Rhône Valley and southern Bordeaux regions of France, the ideal conditions for all the best grape species, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz etc. A proud claim if they can pull it off. Witches Falls proudly advertise they oak all but a few of their wines, a practice I’m fond of and find very few oaked wines deliberately. So with all these contributing factors coming together you’d be betting this will be a good tipple. A little issue I had was this was one of those real regional brands that weren’t available through regular old bottle shops and had to be ordered through the internet. Which is a shame in some ways because it means unless you’ve been to their winery like me and tasted it you won’t know about them (This also meant nobody was home when the Postie delivered. Luckily my Postie is a top bloke who came back later in the day and saved me the trip out to the post office). But anyway I got it in the end, and I’m excited to taste it. For the best results tasting wine, people often decant wine. While this may be the best method I will not be doing this, because people who do are either throwing a party or at least have enough people eating with them that they can justify a whole bottle of wine. On my twenty-third birthday, this May, I decanted myself an entire bottle of 2005 vintage McLaren Vale Tatachilla Shiraz. After a considerable amount of glasses (and a job rejection email that day, prompting the heavy drinking) I realised my only two choices were to either put the remainder of the wine down the drain, or drink the entire bottle that one night. Between what I then thought was merely a risk of a hangover and pouring a 13 year old Australian vintage down the sink I didn’t know which I loathed the thought of more. But I remember I was too ill to go shooting that weekend so evidently I went with the latter. So unless at least another three or four people will be joining me tonight, who definitely will be drinking wine, it would be idiotic and wasteful decanting this. I’ll hold on to a bottle for as long as I can, just personally I don’t like refrigerating wine, I find the taste suffers chilled. I always prefer to drink it at room temperature, the taste is much crisper. It may be borderline superstition to think that the condensation created inside the bottle caused when refrigerated is what causes this subsequent loss in crispness, but I’ve heard much more outlandish theories surrounding wine, so that’s just my two cents.
So let’s crack open this bottle. On first impression, the nose is vibrantly that of cranberries and a subtle background of strawberries, a little less bitter than that expected regularly of a Cabernet Sauvignon, and more of a velvety sweetness. As it breathes, the bitterness disappears almost completely, the sweetness calms and opens up a more nutty, almondy nose. Evidently the people of Witches Falls opted to go with the more original American oak as opposed to the conventional French, which has more a cinnamony fruity flavour . As I take a sip, the wine is juicy, fruity and mild, the tannins deep, dry and toasty on the finish. And an aftertaste of oak. The flavours are sweet and open but balanced perfectly with its dry and bitter properties. The taste of this wine brings back many memories from the trip last December, the burning sun and humidity in the open green garden of the winery while I listen to the lecture on their wine that I regretfully can’t remember as well as I could how it tasted. Evidently that year’s vintage suffered no loss in quality than this year’s to my joy, as I now know exactly why I bought a bottle to take home
In closing: A bottle of this Queensland wineries vintage, immature, only a year or even a few months old is an great wine, and I look forward to the day years in the future when my 2016 vintage has aged nicely and has improved still. Congratulations Witches Falls, you’ve inspire me to continue my exploration into Queensland wine, and I encourage you, my readers, to do likewise. Cheers