Seeing things as male or female attributes always irritated me. “Typical ladies’ car”? “Classic fragrance for men?” Though this cardboard gender-dividing concept is still alive in the world of wines too. The generalisation is that women prefer softer, more fruity wines, whilst men favour big and tannic ones. In this logic 2010 t=0, McLaren Vale, Australia is definitely the most “male” wine among everything I tried during last months.
My curiosity about this Australian red was fuelled by the looks of a bottle. It has no label – neither back, nor front. Only silvers letters on black glass of a botlle – as heavy as many Chilean and Argentinian fine wines are. Not only design persuaded me to open a bottle. It was also the fact that the wine comes from the Red Heads studio – a place, where adventurous Aussie winemakers created a couple of wnies I liked in the past.
There are a number of words used to describe the colour of wine. But in this case there is only one that comes to your mind immediately and pretty much summarises it – black. It is thick and inky, with legs that you can see in some vintage ports. This wine looks big – and you haven’t even smelled it yet. If you want to imagine the nose, think of all the best Australian Shirazes and theirs aromas. Then multiply those prunes, chocolate, toffee and spices by three.
When it came to tasting, someone coughed and said: “Shall we dilute it?” It might not be such a funny idea – the taste is so intense, that at some points it gets too much.
t=0 is a hyperbolised idea of typical Aussie Shiraz: tannic, hot and fruity. Anyone who is looking for elegance in their wines will see this one as being over the top. This unusual blend of Petit Verdot, Shiraz and Tempranillo is bold and huge, with no attempt to hide its temper. Those who seek power in their wines might like the allure of t=0, which by all traditional views is very masculine wine.
But hey, hello stereotypes – it is made by a woman. The winemaker Jess Hardy walked through the Red Heads’ doors just prior to harvest in 2010 and, as the guys admit, became an irreplaceable part of the team. She was very keen to use Petit Verdot alongside more expected McLaren Vale Shiraz. You might ask what Tempranillo has got to do with all it. Almost nothing – Jess decided to use it on a whim after having spent a vintage in Spain working with the variety and falling in love with it. Women are emotional creatures – even if they make most masculine wines.
You can order t=0 from Laithwaite’s for £23 per bottle.