Proctor : March 2018
53 PROCTOR | March 2018 Not all expensive wine is good wine, and not all competitively priced wine is rubbish. Now is a good time to keep this in mind, as the chances are that the heady excesses of the holiday season have seen our ‘champagne budget’ reduced to something far less inspiring. It’s a shame that liquor merchants can’t follow the retail food outlets that offer ‘cheap Tuesday’ bargains, but all is not lost. While the ‘big brand’ wines retain mid to high positioning in terms of quality and price, many stockists now sell ‘own brand’ wines which are high on value and low on price. Recently, the most notable was the ALDI wine that broke the internet. News travelled fast that the $6.99 ALDI One Road South Australia and Heathcote Shiraz 2016 had won a gold medal at the Great Australian Shiraz Challenge (a fine wine show chaired by Alister Purbrick of Chateau Tahbilk fame). While the internet and news media had trouble deciphering what that win actually meant, sometimes saying it was top prize or that the ALDI wine won the show – the truth was not quite so golden, but still very impressive for a wine at that price point. As it happened in the 2017 competition, there were 386 entries with 44 gold medals awarded, 73 silver and 164 bronze awards. While not alone in its success, it is worth reflecting that the $6.99 wine not only took a gold medal but was competing in a field of wines where the “average recommended retail price of all entries was $54”. 1 Sadly, due to Queensland’s anachronistic liquor licensing laws, enthusiasts will need to venture to New South Wales to stock up. While the ALDI wines have had some show successes, all the major outlets have their ‘own brand’ wines and generally the quality is good for the money. Wine Experience in Rosalie in Brisbane is notable for having led the quality ‘own brand’ selection for nearly 15 years selling what it terms ‘quality cleanskins’. This same approach now underpins many wine and beer lines sold through the various major supermarket-owned vendors. Another good place to fill the table on ‘cheap Tuesdays’ is wine from the various online vendors or auction sites. Of them all, the best bargains are still available from Grays Wine auctions (grayswine.com). Stalwarts like Pirramimma Eight Carat Australian sparkling wine still regularly go for $64 a case of 12 (plus premium plus delivery), making it land at your doorstep for the incomparable $7.20 a bottle. This compares very favourably with the $16 RRP. On the subject of sparkling, ‘cheap Tuesday’ needs fizz and some enterprising souls have come up with enterprising suggestions to lift the mood. However, try these at your own risk! Fill a fridge built-in water dispenser with sparkling wine and enjoy chilled fizz from the tap on the front of the fridge door! Chill a cheap white wine down low and then carbonate in a SodaStream to produce your own fizz (slowly or the bottle may explode). The first was the ALDI One Road South Australia and Heathcote Shiraz 2016, which was an impenetrable purple black colour. The nose was distinct white pepper and black juicy currants. The palate was soft and ripe with red berry fruits and a tannic red currant tang. It was ideal approachable full-style red wine. The second was the Chalkboard 2014 Barossa Valley SA Shiraz, which was deep dark ruby black in colour and had a nose of plums and restrained red fruits. The palate was ripe red damson plum and a distinct vein of vanilla and cigar box on the mid palate, which was very pleasing for the price point of ten dollars. Verdict: The ALDI offering was an award winner and had an edge of sophistication over the Chalkboard, but the purity of the vanilla in that wine was quite remarkable for its price point. The tasting Matt Dunn is acting chief executive officer and government relations advisor at Queensland Law Society. Wine Cheap Tuesday can be every day with Matthew Dunn Two examples of cheap and cheerful were examined for the betterment of society.