This week I would like to introduce you to the noble grapes, the backbone of all varieties consistently producing the best wines on the market. Also referred to as "international varieties" these are known to be the highest quality wine grapes and offer a wide range of flavours and aromas for a comprehensive wine drinking experience.
Historically there are 6 grapes which have received the noble title (Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling), although if you include new world and other international grapes today there are up to 18 varieties which can be referred to as noble grapes.
Interestingly, Australia had no indigenous grape varieties suitable for wine-making, so all these grapes including Australia’s pride, the Shiraz (or Syrah), were imported from Europe. After hundreds of years of mastering the art of wine-making, Australia outgrew itself becoming one of the largest and most notable producers of each of the noble varieties.
To familiarise yourself with the main characteristics of wine, I would recommend you to start by getting to know the six original grapes which are globally recognised for the top quality wines they produce. I've been hunting around online for a bundle deal in the hope of finding a bargain on a case of six including a bottle of each of the noble legends, but unfortunately I could not find any of the kind.
After considering that most places who usually offer good bargains on premium wine (i.e. Winemarket, VinoMofo, Crackawines, Cellarmasters, etc) sell these reds and whites in cases of six or twelve, I have come to the conclusion that Dan Murphy’s is one of the most reasonable liquor stores when it comes to competitive pricing on individual bottles. Historically, Dan’s hasn't always had a reputation amongst bargain hunters as being particularly competitive across the board. However, they have definitely stepped up their game and it seems that neither First Choice, Liquorland nor Vintage Cellars for example can compete with the positive transformation which I have witnessed over the past year or so. In addition to this, their ongoing free shipping voucher to metro areas has added yet another reason to shop online at Dan Murphy’s.
So after browsing through Dan’s massive selection of wine made from each of the noble varieties I have cherry picked one bottle each creating my own little mixed bundle, which I’m going to name…
… The Noble Six :)
It includes six bottles of Australian made, premium reds and whites, all rated over 90 points by James Halliday priced on average at $15 a bottle. The total works out at $97.82 using the free shipping voucher, which I would be happy to pay for this mixed bundle. Personal note to Dan’s with a suggestion - how about selling my bundle on special for $90 delivered?! :P
Merlot is a wine perfect for beginners and Leconfield produces one of the most consistent Merlots in Australia. This 2012 vintage offers an elegant and smooth palate with Merlot’s typical flavours of juicy dark fruits. Tannins are soft supported by brown spiced French oak creating a smooth finish and aftertaste valued at 94 points by James Halliday.
This multiple award winning Cab Sav rated at 90 points is made of grapes grown in Clare Valley, featuring Cabernet Sauvignons signature blackcurrant flavours seasoned with sweet vanilla created by maturing in French oak. Tannins are firm in this medium bodied, balanced dry red.
Pinot Noir is similar to the Cab Sav but with a more balanced, softer tannins making it a silky premium red to enjoy with any food (or on its own). The Innocent Bystander scored 93 points on the “Halliday scale” with its flavours of black and red cherries accompanied with a bouquet of intense spiciness. Although the reason for Pinot Noir being one of the most expensive varieties is that it’s hard to grow, this 2012 vintage especially was a superb one from Yarra Valley.
Chardonnay is the most widely grown white wine grape variety in the world. The fruit used in the Gold Turtle Chardonnay ripened in the famous Margaret River giving you all a first class Chardonnay has to offer: flavours of honeyed peach, citrus with a long dense and deep texture reinforced by buttered toast complexity. This premium white by MadFish has also impressed Mr. Halliday, who has given it 93 points.
This organically grown Australian Sauvignon Blanc gives you the chance to taste the true aromatic nature of the grape variety. James Halliday besides rating this crisp, zesty white at 90 points has also reviewed the wine to have an impressive texture and structure with savoury/minerally/asparagus flavours running alongside tropical fruit nuances on the emphatic finish.
Each year, O’Leary Walker releases one of the most anticipated Rieslings, and this 2013 vintage did not disappoint. With a long future ahead thanks to its ageing potential, this Riesling is a mineral-rich, well balanced lime and citrus zest flavoured classic quality example of the variety. James Halliday seems to agree, giving it a whopping 95 points.