Whatever happened to The Regents? Can't say I miss them, but I am missing 'proper' wine, as in wine I want to enthuse about. While most of the brands so far have been drinkable, in general they've been the liquid equivalent of lift music. But at least I'm on the finishing straight. Two reds tonight, both Aussies.
Lindemans Bin 40 Merlot 2007, South Eastern Australia
Australia has struggled to get Merlot right. OK, the whole world has struggled to get Merlot right, but given the success that the winemakers Down Under have had with other grape varieties, the dearth of decent Merlot comes as a surprise. Is this one cred or crud? It's actually not bad. It has this core of chocolatey plummy fruit, plus a herbal, leafy edge. But once again, there's this rather crude sweet vanilla edge getting in the way. Why are so many people still cocking up decent grapes by inappropriate use of oak? Here's it's a like a pretty ten-year-old girl who's been let loose on her mum's make-up - she thinks she looks grown-up, but everyone else knows she looks better without the slap. Please Lindemans, you're nearly there with this wine - why not try it without oak for once?
Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, South Australia
Used to work in a place in Melbourne called Albert Park Cellars. We had tastings every weekend, and each Friday afternoon, this guy would come in, try what was on show but still buy the same wine - Wolf Blass Yellow Label. One week, Petaluma wines were on tasting, and he was so impressed that he left with a bottle of their Chardonnay. 'Great, we've cracked it,' we thought.The next week, he was back to taste the wines - and buy a bottle of Wolf Blass Yellow Label - grrrr. How's the 2006? Actually rather nice, with lush berry and plum flavours, something like mint or eucalyptus lurking in the background, and a soft finish. There is a note of vanilla-y oak here, but unlike in the Bin 40, here it's in balance with the rest of the wine. And while it's not a crime to drink it now, I wouldn't be surprised to see it still going strong in 2012.