Proctor : April 2017
61 PROCTOR | April 2017 Easter often falls during the month of April, and many people enjoy venturing into the great outdoors for an Easter break. However, the challenge of out-of-home living and a lack of refrigeration need not be an impediment to wine being the star of the holiday. French gastronome Jean Brillat-Savarin wrote that “a meal without wine is like a day without sunshine”, and too often intrepid Queenslanders heading off on an Easter camping trip miss out on both wine and sunshine – but at least we can do something about the wine. The first challenge of outdoor-ism is usually a lack of refrigeration. Sparkling wines, for example, need to be chilled and present very undesirably when lukewarm – if there is no refrigeration leave the Krug, Salon or Chandon at home. The same predicament faces sparkling burgundies, other sparkling reds and botrytis-style dessert wines. The increased temperature brings out cloyed sweet flavours and emphasises some of the wilder volatile elements. Dry white wines can be another story. The mostly cringe-worthy practice of putting ice-blocks into white wine now seems to be receding, but for those with a taste for nostalgia, it is possible to buy little ice bricks in the shape of ice cubes to swill in your NZ savvy B (or single malt for the lion-hearted). However, with white wines it is quite possible to enjoy some at close to room temperature. While those with high levels of fragrant flavour elements – such as sauvignon blanc, riesling or gewürztraminer – can be difficult wines to take camping because they tend to need lower temperatures to keep them in check, more restrained varieties such as chardonnay and pinot grigio can usually withstand being served a little bit warmer. In fact a good chablis or white burgundy is better at red-wine temperatures than chilled. Reaching for a white wine with more body and less perfume is the best ticket when looking for something to accompany your campsite meals. Red wines can also present an issue, but a little careful choice can result in good results. While reds are generally served at higher temperatures than whites, not all are good in the Queensland heat. Most of our venerable wine writers tell us to serve reds at room temperature, but this can be misleading. Often they are writing for European markets where room temps are normally around 18 to 20°C. This is why it can be a good idea to give a full- bodied red five to 10 minutes in the fridge before ordinary serving to bring it down a few degrees. On camping missions, experience has shown that monster reds quickly become overwhelming. A good trick is to look for a lighter red such as an Italian or Spanish variety, or to seek out a shiraz viognier blend rather than the full McLaren Vale shiraz onslaught. In this case, the viognier lightens the load and fills out the shiraz in a way which works at warmer temperatures. While much overlooked at home, camping trips are made for fortified wines. One family’s tradition is to take a bottle of the ‘camping muscat’ to enjoy with friends around the campfire after night settles in. Port would work well too, but the raisin heaven of good Victorian muscat usually brings out the stories and gets people talking. Such nights make for both a good time away and good memories. The first was the Flametree Margaret River Chardonnay 2015, which was gold in colour and was juicy peaches and grapefruit on the nose with an underlining hint of buttery malo. The palate was a bit frisky with a distinct acid cut that flows through to ripe fruit flavours but not at all cloyed. A longer-term proposition but with a cut back to a mostly dry finish it would camp well. The second was the Boireann 2015 Granite Belt Shiraz Viognier, which was a dark brooding brick red and had a nose of tart red summer fruits and white pepper. The palate was smooth with the rich ripe flow of red berry fruit, a little pepper hiding presently in the mid palate and some floral power from the viognier on the back palate. The initial attack comes to a crescendo as it lengthens. The last was the El Candado Pedro Ximenez Sherry Jerez de La Frontera, which was a dark toffee brown and had a nose of pure raisins and some rancio notes. The palate was sweet, strong and all raisins as it filled ever corner of the mouth with hints of spice and coffee but mostly fruitcake in a glass. A very strong contender for campfire star-gazing enabler. Verdict: The three wines were made for Easter camping but the sentimental favourite was the Boireann, parochially Queensland and top-flight nationally. The tasting Matthew Dunn is Queensland Law Society acting CEO and government relations principal advisor. Wine Try camping, armed with a muscat with Matthew Dunn Three camp-ready wines were subjected to consideration.