Have been out at the in-laws for tea this evening, and just to show I'm taking the task in hand seriously, I opted to take some of my Big Brands rather than something a little more esoteric (OK, tastier). He's an Aussie Shiraz fan, she likes Chardonnay, so the following seemed appropriate:-
Hardy's VR Chardonnay 2006, South Eastern Australia
Day One saw me on Blossom Hill Chardonnay. This is better, but not by a great deal. In its favour are the easy melon and peach flavours, but there's also this blowsy vanilla edge that turns a perfectly decent crisp wine into something blander. Still, I managed a glass of it without incurring much pain.
Hardy's VR Shiraz 2006, South Eastern Australia
I've watched with pleasure in recent years as producers of Aussie Shiraz have taken their foot off the gas when it comes to things such as oak, ripeness and alcohol levels. Ambitious Shirazes today are far better balanced and taste less manipulated than was the case in the late 1990s, and this is gradually having a knock-on effect lower down the price scale. Hopefully what I tasted here is still a wine in transit. It's not overripe, but the berry and blackcurrant flavours seem to be wrestling with a rather crude, even boot-polish-like edge and (again) some of that false vanilla character. As soon as I tasted it, I turned to Jill and said, 'I'll drive.'
Halfway through the experiment, and while I'm not having John McCririck-like reactions to my course of popular wine therapy, I'm most definitely looking forward to finishing. What's more, the line trotted out by the wine trade that we should drink 'less but better' seems to be breaking down - I've spent the last few days drinking only Big Brands, but my consumption is less than half its normal level.