Let’s toast vinous promiscuity

Most wine drinkers are very brand loyal, according to a marketing friend. They stick to a narrow band of faithful labels and spurn the unfamiliar. Moving out of our comfort zone involves risk but it also offers reward. Scan the shelves of any wine shop. How many have you tasted? I’ve probably tried more than most because that’s what I do for a living and yet I’m hungry for more. One of the most attractive things about wine is the seemingly infinite range of tastes and textures on offer. The next wine you taste might be the greatest wine you’ve ever tasted. That thought drives me on.

In the spirit of vinous promiscuity I have chosen two wines that will push you well out of your comfort zone but neither involves much risk because they are both very good. One is made from a red Italian grape variety grown in Hawke’s Bay, the other is a red Austrian variety grown in Marlborough.

Church Road McDonald Series Marzemino, Hawke’s Bay 2009 – $32.99

My introduction to this wine had me logging on to Wikipedia almost immediately. This Italian grape variety is famous for getting a mention in Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni (“Versa il vino! Eccellente Marzemino!”). It has, according to Wikipedia “a characteristic dark tint and light plummy taste”. The Kiwi version is a big, weighty wine with strong berry, plum, prune, liquorice and violet flavours. It’s a hearty red that suits rich red meats, particularly when they have been slow-cooked. – view on bobcampbell.nz

Forrest Estate The Doctors’ St Laurent, Marlborough 2011 – $25

I thought that the St Laurent grape variety originated in Austria, where it is widely grown. So did Forrest Estate, according to the wine’s back label. Wikipedia claims that St Laurent is actually a French grape variety from the same family tree as Pinot Noir. The variety was imported into Central Otago. I tasted Judge Rock’s 2009 vintage (tastings) – a very Pinot Noir-like wine with a similar smooth texture and plum-like flavours but with deeper colour. Forrest Estate’s St Laurent is dense, but not heavy, with crushed cherry/berry, spice and wild herb flavours. It has lively acidity and relatively soft tannins. Try it with pasta and a rich meat sauce. Great value at this price. – view on bobcampbell.nz

First published in KiaOra Magazine – Sep 2012.

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