Tomas Clancy explores Wolf Blass and a Portuguese red...
Tomas Clancy of the Sunday Business Post joins Sean Moncrieff to explore the culture and tasting notes of two wines...
Wolf Blass, Silver Label Cabernet Shiraz 2010
Pricing : around €19.99
Available : Very Widely and in multiple outlets like Obriens Wines nationwide
and in selected Tesco Supermarkets nationwide.
Wolf Blass is a real figure, a wonderful example of how open and embracing
the world once was to refugees of all sorts including the most usual, the
economic refugee. Wolfie Blass, as he is known to his friends escaped from
East Germany, worked as a biochemist in Harvey’s of Bristol, the Sherry people
in the 1950s and in the 1960s ended up in Australia.
There he began to make wine himself, delighting in bringing a scientific and
marketing sensibility to bear on the then underdeveloped Australian still dry
As a great marketer, Blass saw that people liked good, opulent wines at fair
prices, no surprise their but that they often found themselves wondering what is
was they liked previously. So he invented a colour coded labelling system,
based on Betting Slips in Australia at the time, red, black, yellow and so forth.
People remembered his name, the good wine and the label colour. It was simple
but, very, effective.
50 years later, the Wolf Blass Winery has established itself not just in the mass
market but as a fine wine producer, wining the top awards in Australian Red
Wine for its Icon and brilliantly, no expense spared Wolf Blass Black Label and
with its Silver and Gold labels becoming crowned the International Red
Winemaker of the Year at the IWC 2016, under winemaker at Wolf Blass, Chris
This wine is their Wolf Blass Silver Label Cabernet Shiraz and it is an
astonishingly accomplished and ambitious red wine that if produced in
Bordeaux would easily command a multiple of the price, this is still a
fundamental reason we wine lovers still keep coming back to Australia.
The Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz blend may seem initially odd, but it has
been a feature of the great Australian red wines for 50 years and Penfolds finest
also adopted the blend.
In fact it turns out that many of the great Classed Growth Chateaux of Bordeaux
subsequently found out that their wines in the 19 th century were often boosted
with the addition of Syrah, as Shiraz in France is called, from the Rhine Valley.
So in effect wine pioneers like Wolf Blass and Max Schubert at Penfolds had
simply been returning to an older wine truth lost with the somewhat finicky AC
rules were adopted in France in the 1930s.
This wine is an opulent rush of notes of dark chocolate and silky vanilla, some
hints of cherry and leather, evident spice and a cool earthy succulent finish. A
stunning wine for the price.
Casa Ermerlinda, Dom Freitas Reserva Castelao, Vinho Regional
Peninsula de Setubal, Portugal 2013
Pricing : around €8.33 in an attractive wooden case of 6, which complicatedly
then become eligible for a €10 discount, making the €50 case purchase a €40
case purchase bringing the cost of a bottle to €6.66
Available : Selected SuperValu Stores nationwide
Sometimes an unusual grape attracts our attention such as here with the castelao
grape. Other times it is a slightly off beat location as in this case from the often
overlooked, hot region to the south of Lisbon across the vast Vasco da Gama
bridge called the Peninsula of Setubal and finally being always concerned with
finances, a happy price may call to us from the shelves. This wine has all three elements.
The Castelao grape is very widely planted in Portugal but is almost never
spoken about on its own, except under the name Trincadeira or as a lost grape in
Madeira. It produces strong, muscular red wines and is a happy blending grape.
In its best years and with slightly lower cropping and sandy soils, such as in the
Setubal region it can produce a soft and spicy wine, with a hotter Tempranillo
like softness that is hugely enjoyable and has a more muscular frame than many
wines of a similar price.
It is a wine that Cabernet Sauvignon drinkers looking to explore a spicier side
might enjoy and could well appeal to Australian Shiraz lovers looking for a
more affordable alternative.
It would be excellent with any of the late summer barbecues we hope we can
still look forward to.
The pricing and its lovely wooden box presentation of 6 bottles for €40 on sale
at present will likely tip this over into a really generous and enjoyable gift too,
well worth seeking out.