My wife and I were in the Hunter Valley a few weeks ago for an expo and popped into the Meerea Park cellar door.
I tend to feel a little for the people working behind the counter in these places, reciting the same old story every 30 minutes to whomever may be standing in front of them drinking their wine, for free. It has to be tough to maintain that enthusiasm.
However, this day was somewhat of a refreshing surprise when we met Rob who took us through their wines and, more importantly, through the story of Meerea Park including a little history of Alexander Munro, the name sake behind some of their wines.
I have been on a mission of late, something of a personal challenge, to deny my long held and justified distaste of Chardonnay to find the reborn style I have been hearing whispers about. In my chats with Rob I mentioned the subject and he grins like a man with a cure for my pain and pours me a glass of their 2013 Alexander Munro Chardonnay promising to change my world…. And you know what?
I bought a bottle on the spot which is the first Chardonnay I have purchased since Noah left the ark. We got talking a little more; I told him I was a Wine Wanker and he introduced me to Charlie who was only too happy to offer me a bottle of one of their big guns, the “Hell Hole” Shiraz, for a tasting and review.
Those who know me understand I am a sucker for a good Shiraz so it was was not a tough decision and I have been waiting for the right time to delve into both the Shiraz and the ever so promising Chardonnay.
The opportunity finally came around with a Steak and Red night at a neighbors and I was interested to see if the others were as excited about the wines as I, especially when I know they enjoy a good drop.
“I’ve brought a Chardy”
It’s one of those moments where the clock stops ticking, the silence is instant and I am sure I heard a gasp and a glass shatter on the floor somewhere in the distant background.
Being a Wine Wanker there is a small expectation that you will not turn up at a BBQ with something so socially incorrect and announce it so brazenly. It had been a few weeks since my tasting and I was secretly dreading the pour sniff and taste of this new found joy not living up to my memory. It hits the bottom of the glass, washing up against the sides almost in slow motion before settling, 4 more glasses follow and in unison the sounds of swish sniff sip.
My initial impression is every bit as good as I remember and looking around I can see the others are sharing this moment of rediscovery.
Comments of “Wow that’s good” are uttered and I feel justified in my purchase. I took some comments and a few scores from the guys : “Smooth, lightly creamy”
“Great after taste…it doesn’t have that repugnant tangy finish of chardy I am used to”
These all echod my own opinion of this wine, lovely not overpowering stone fruits with a touch of pear and a hint of the French oak intersperses the wonderful creaminess. The finish however is for me the winner, I could sit out on the deck and drink this all day long and I have not said that about a chardy…ever.
I take some scores around the table, and keep in mind our tasting audience here is from a broad cross section of people and tastes, and this wine scored high on everyones ratings especially mine.
Would I buy this again? Most definitely, and as much as I bag out Chardonnay in previous posts, I am going to recommend you actually track this one down and experience it for yourself.
Next up, as the mains hit the table is the 2011 Hell Hole Shiraz. This wine really impressed me at tasting and I have been looking forward to twisting the neck on this one.
Snout in the glass and I am hit with that signature Hunter Shiraz nose, I love it and this will almost always tell me if I am going to like a wine or not and this one is like inhaling heaven wrapped in plum and licorice.
My enjoyment is reflected around the table as I see nothing but faces half immersed in welcoming glasses as all enjoy the aroma of this drop.
For me this is a classic quality Shiraz and the embodiment of what it is I like about a good Hunter Valley Shiraz. A lovely balance of your typical dark fruits with flavours of plum and cherry being dominant with some chocolate coming in the back. The wine was seriously good but I think would really benefit from sitting in the cellar for a few years which I think would make it great.
However, this is the challenge in reviewing a wine that will be at its best in a few years. We get a glimpse of what it will become without actually getting the chance to taste it when it gets there. The depth of my pockets don’t lend themselves to vertical tastings of such premium wines .. that would be a day to remember!
Our party scored this one well, though I personally scored it a little higher and can really appreciate what this wine is now, what makes it good, and also what it should become one day.
The night ends with a wonderfully smokey whiskey and a short stroll across the driveway home to fall in to bed and think to myself…
“That chardy was bloody good!”
It’s the serendipity I enjoy in finding something you don’t expect that can make an occasion special. I feel I have rediscovered something missing (or is it something I have been missing?)
Thanks Alexander Munro, I see the light.