I’ve been a fan of rich, spicy and flavoursome Australian Shirazes for a while. When you’re relatively new to the world of wine, their strident flavours and intoxicating nature are easy to notice and, if you’ve a taste for it, easy to love.
More recently I’ve been exploring different avenues grape wise, paying attention to subtleties rather than sitting back and indulging in the more overt advances of so-called ‘big wines’.
So it was with some anticipation I ordered a bottle of Arabella Shiraz, from the Western Cape of South Africa. It’s not a country with a long history of Shiraz production, but has apparently been making great strides recently with vibrant wines in the Australian style (hence it’s not called Syrah).
It turned out to be nice and frisky, but not overly so.
The nose has hints of oak, coffee, and plenty of ripe berry fruit thanks to the recent vintage. There’s are an amazing burst of blackcurrant that explodes once it’s sipped, but also a slightly harsh acidic tang in the finish – one that only increases on drinking the next day.
The soft tannins yield a welcome velvety, easy drinking tongue-pleasing texture, which means it goes well without food. This is just as well – there is a real mouth tingling spiciness here that gets the taste-buds going and could dominate any dish that’s not up to it. It’s not quite integrated into the 14% alcohol, which again comes out in the finish as a warm slightly sickly sweetness.
This is neither a dark, powerful bruiser nor an austere sophisticate. Sitting comfortably somewhere in the middle it’s a lively, heady, medium-bodied wine that still gives you a wallop of the intriguing spiciness and depth of flavour typical of Shiraz.
At £7.99 it’s probably priced about right, I got it from Naked Wines.