The Vindependent attended a very important 40th birthday last Saturday night.
Usually this milestone celebration is a 21st for adults. Bacardi Breezers and jelly shots are replaced with European or Craft beer; and with hopefully 20 years of wine drinking under their belt, the birthday boy or girl has had long enough to find their vinous groove....
When I'm asked for advice on wines that are universally appealing for such soirees, the whites pretty much sort themselves out. While it's part of my brief to challenge the status quo, invariably Sauvignon Blanc is requested, If I can steer people towards an Aussie example, from Orange or the Adelaide Hills, I feel I'm doing my job. I always suggest a case of quality Chardonnay be included, as there may be some sophisticated people amongst the throng :-) and those who embrace Australian Riesling are enjoying one of the great value propositions of the wine world.
Reds are a different story. Shiraz can be too potent for many; Pinot Noir too "light" for others; and straight Cabernet Sauvignon often has tannins that Pinot drinkers can't abide. While many of us love each of these varieties and styles in their many guises, catering for a large group of guests demands a little imagination. Last weekend, thanks to a high level of trust in the Vindependent, the host allowed me to supply a young and vibrant Australian Grenache as the rouge du jour. The Cirillo "Vincent" 2014 Grenache is a bright; red-fruited glass of juiciness, with gentle tannins and enough mid-palate weight to keep lovers of shiraz more than happy, On a warm night, this lightly oaked wine was a huge hit, with universal appreciation - a rare commodity. http://thevindependent.com.au/products/2014-cirillo-the-vincent-grenache
Tonight, I've happily uncovered another wine that ticks all of the boxes for universal appeal. It's a 100% Sangiovese from Tuscany, made from fruit that is often channelled into Chianti and Chianti Classico wines. The variety is renowned for its savoury leanings; it's dark and sour cherry fruit profile; and soft, chalky tannins. The quintessential Friday night "pizza wine" - as attractive and charming as it is inoffensive.
The 2013 Il Palazio "Ignobile" Sangiovese is produced from grapes that receive the Rolls Royce treatment usually reserved for Chianti Riserva. Hand-picking from low-yielding vines - the defining feature comes from partial fermentation in stainless steel - which reduces the overall oak content - adding freshness and energy. With only 450 cases made, it is amazing a parcel found its way to Australia. Do yourself a favour and buy a 6 pack (or a dozen). It is a steal at the price, and stocks are limited. Usually $30 per bottle, exclusively $25 per bottle through thevindependent.com.au
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He's a terrific communicator. His words are measured, as are his scores out of 100. It's why, when Campbell rates wines I tend to seek them out.
I tried the wines of Mitchell Harris when they unleashed their first babies in 2008.
At that time, I'd just opened the Union Bank Wine Store in Orange, NSW. I was looking for wines that celebrated the regions from which they came, and producers who understood and appreciated the importance of quality focused, (V)independent retail stores.