Proctor : October 2016
61 PROCTOR | October 2016 Celebrations and landmarks are best accompanied with wine. However, wine can be more than just the beverage of celebration; if chosen well it can also make the perfect gift for that landmark event. Some wines are synonymous with moments of celebration and many cultural formalities are linked closely to consumption. A good example of this intimate intertwining of wine and celebration is the ubiquitous role Champagne or sparkling wine plays at weddings. Wedding receptions usually, at least, start as a structured party with formalities, such as wedding speeches that usually end in a toast to the bride, groom and others (if not to express joy at the end of bad oratory). Despite many preconceptions of weddings, a reception without wine would be a day without sunshine. Other landmark events are often marked by wine. Some people put away special bottles of wine for their children to be consumed on their 18th or 21st birthdays – often from a birth year. This charming practice, high on symbolism, marks a rite of passage to adulthood, but can present difficulties. First, many wines will not be in good shape 18 or 21 years after vintage, especially in the absence of quality cellaring. Second, not every 18 or 21 year old has a taste for fine aged McLaren Vale shiraz or hefty first growth Bordeaux. Anniversaries are often marked with special wines. Some folks will plan to steal away to a favourite restaurant and accompany their meal with a choice wine. Sometimes a bottle of fine wine will remind a couple that their anniversary is something special. Equally, and potentially more appropriately, a cheap and unlikely wine selection may not be a comment on the quality of the relationship, but a reminder of where and when that relationship began. Imagine a couple celebrating each and every year for 40 years with a reminder of the wine they drank on “their impoverished first date? (By the way, Ben Ean is no longer with us, but Barossa Pearl made a welcome return in 2014!) Wine and celebration are interlinked in our society. So, too, the gift of wine can be both a great compliment and a gift of future pleasure, but there are a few things to keep in mind: Champagne and white sparkling wines are made to be drunk in celebration and not put down to mature. If instant joy is required, there is probably no better gift than good quality fizz. Not every wine is suitable for ageing and price is not always a good guide to longevity. If your expected keeping horizon is between five and 10 years, then look for a quality Barossa or McLaren Vale shiraz or a Margaret River cabernet sauvignon blend. If the keeping horizon extends to 10 or more years, consider premium shiraz from McLaren Vale, semillon from the Hunter Valley with a screw cap, marsanne from Chateau Tahbilk, or perhaps a fine Australian fortified wine like a Para liqueur or rare Rutherglen muscat. Keep the recipient in mind, and never give a wine which will be in better shape in 20 years than the recipient. A more youthful and vigorous wine can be just as rewarding, and not everyone has the patience or time for extended cellaring. Good news for Morris PS: In the August column I discussed the imminent closure of Morris Wines in Rutherglen. Happily it is now reported that Casella Family Brands has stepped in to save the whole concern. The Riverina-based Casellas are the owners of the Yellowtail label, sold everywhere, but they also have an interest in preserving fine wine labels, owning the Barossa’s Peter Lehmann and Brand’s Laira in the Coonawarra region. The Riversands Ellen Meacle Merlot 2013 was cherry red in colour and had the very pleasant nose of granite stone mixed with soft berry fruits. The palate was an easy and seamless mix of plummy fruit, some structuring tannins and a framework of granite-edged crispness. A very pleasant wine deserving of its gold medals at the Australian Small Winemakers Show. The Riversands Western Rivers Run Shiraz 2013 was crimson red brick colour and possessed an intriguing nose of savoury earthy notes upon a bed of crushed red fruits. The palate was poles apart from the archetype of South Australian shiraz, with flavours of cherry fruits and the savoury impact of leather and earth giving a soft impression despite sitting on some undercurrents of tannins. More Hunter than Barossa, but a very pleasurable shiraz from a climate that is little explored and unfamiliar to mainstream wine drinkers. The tasting Matthew Dunn is Queensland Law Society government relations principal advisor. Wine A taste for celebration with Matthew Dunn Two specimens from Riversands, Queensland’s most westerly winery on the banks of the Balonne River in St George, were considered.