Mon 28 Dec 2009
Yes, friends, there are bubbles concealed in the Plutonian depths of the blood-red Hill of Content Sparkling Red (non-vintage), made primarily from shiraz grapes grown in the South Australian region of Padthaway. The first time I encountered sparkling shiraz, as it happens on a trip to Australian, my impression was of drinking sparkling roast beef, but I was so much younger and naive 11 years ago. Certainly the Hill of Content Sparkling Red is a little meaty but not that brashly beefy as the example to which I was initially introduced. The bottle is sealed with a crown cap — like on a soda bottle — which indicates that the pressure inside is not as great as the pressure inside most sparkling wines; this is gently effervescent, a breeze of bubbles rather than a torrent. The bouquet offers plums and raspberries and notes of toast and leather. In the mouth, flavors of spiced red currants and cassis, as well as plums, are cushioned in a dense chewy texture; the base wine for this sparkler spends two-and-a-half years in French oak, and you feel the force and the resonance. A few minutes in the glass bring up hints of fruitcake, if fruitcake were not sweet, and more leather. I have seen this rather astonishing product listed on some retail websites as a dessert wine, but it clearly is not; imagine the driest wine you ever tasted and then go beyond that into a region of Platonic dryness. What’s most unusual here is the sense that you are drinking a chilled sparkling wine and partaking of cold tannins. And yet — always an “and yet” — there’s a pretty, winsome quality about it, a thread of something floral and delicately macerated the belies its size and power. Very Good+, and a Great Bargain at about $15.
The Australian Premium Wine Collection.
Sent as a sample for review.