A wine that’s all about blackcurrant

… is basically just like my parents’ blackcurrant jelly

Closeup of the label of this bottle of Stephen Miller Shiraz. Typography and line-drawing logo of bearded man in a hatMy clever old parents make blackcurrant jelly. Darker, less translucent than those confected supermarket ones, it smells like the essence of the fruit. Intense and sharp, it stains your toast black-red.

Stephen Miller’s Shiraz smells almost exactly like my parents’ blackcurrant jelly. It tastes vaguely similar, too. Once your tastebuds have vaulted over the towering wall of blackcurrant, there’s not too much else to talk about: it’s a relatively straightforward kind of wine. It has a whack of alcohol — and there’s a smear of liquorice in there too — and the whole shaboddle hangs together pretty well. But, really, it’s all about the blackcurrants. Which is all very nice — but Stephen Miller’s Shiraz makes for an altogether less suitable (and socially acceptable) breakfast accompaniment than does my parents’ jelly.

So, altogether, I’d say it’s fun enough, y’know. The kind of wine that even people who don’t like wine much would probably drink relatively happily. But — for me — it’s a smidgin too intense in its fruitiness. In a manner that I hope won’t cause too many parallels to be drawn between myself and George Osborne, I’d prefer a bit more austerity.

Rating ★★★ 3 stars (good — if you like blackcurrants)
Grape Shiraz
Region California
ABV 13.5%
Price Was £5.99 to me as a Naked Wines member. But it’s sold out now, I’m afraid.

Act Five Shiraz Viognier 2009 review

… is an alluringly androgynous wine — the result of some white grape on red grape action — and is bloody nice for it

A bottle of Act Five in the sunshine, on a wooden garden table

Well, here was a nifty young wine. A slinkily androgynous wine. One where you’re pretty sure you’ve got its gender right — but there remains that frisson of doubt.

This androgyny comes courtesy of the blend, which combines the grape varieties Shiraz and Viognier*. Yeah: Viognier. So what we have is some white grape on red grape action. If we were in Othello, some tedious fart called Brabantio would be going mental at this interracial tupping.

It is my hope that today’s attitudes will be less blinkered.

Anyhow (Jesus Christ, Parn, get to the point) it may just be that my tastebuds were so frigging grateful for anything in the aftermath of this week’s Le Froglet horrors — but I thought this was a bloody good wine. A bloody alluring wine.

It’s really full, properly blasting out that peppery blackcurrant POWER that you’d expect of our pal Shiraz. There’s some oak in there, some earthy bitterness, some toasty (um) toastiness. This (in other words) is the part of the wine that’s strapping and crocodile-wrestling as you like.

But, oh boy, it’s all lifted where to order cialis online safe thanks to a (most seductive) lightness. A freshness. A heady breath of spring breezes across fecund meadows.

This same freshness is fucking transformative, what’s more, when it comes to the blackcurrant. Because (to my gob, anyhow) full-on dark fruit flavours can get a mite tedious and two-dimensional, despite their initial appeal. But this wine sacrifices nothing of the intensity of the fruit, yet renders it complex, subtly floral, light. Blackcurrant and elderflower.

Fuck yeah.

Verdict

Okay, yes, so I liked this wine rather a lot. I liked it even more when I found out that it costs only goddamn £7.49. £7.49, by the risen Christ! (Yes, Parn can do topical expletives too.)

It tastes a good bit more expensive than that.

So if you haven’t yet recognised the allure of a subtle bit of vinous gender-bending, I implore you to get with the programme, you dull old Brabantio, you.

Rating ???? (4 stars)
ABV 14%
Price £7.49 from Avery’s
* For those who like to know this stuff, Syrah + Viognier is the signature combo of the celebrated Cote-Rotie region of France.

Domaine de Mourchon 2005, Seguret, Cotes du Rhone Villages

… will seduce you with a heady waft of fruit, then pull you up, slap you and strap you, look you fucking DEAD in the eye and ask you: ‘Do you think you’re hard enough?’

A closeup of the label of a bottle of Domaine de Mourchon. Relatively modern label design for a Cotes du Rhone, typographic emphasis

I’m sorry, but that was fucking amazing.

Rare, rare — fuck, practically endangered — sirloin steak. Meat so tender its fibres splay apart like fishnet. And a big, chunky Cotes du Rhone. Nothing too venerable or refined — still young enough to play loud music and pout when its parents come and tell it to quiet down.

Something avec spunk.

And Domaine de Mourchon’s got spunk. At the same time as being rather complex. Sure, it may play loud music, but it also surreptitiously reads William Blake and watches film noir.

The combination of spunk and complexity doesn’t always come cheap. But I don’t begrudge a sodding penny of the £14.50 I spent on this wine; nor of the £5 I spent on 200g of the best steak I could find. So take your ‘Dine in for £10’, Marks & Spencer, and stuff it up the rotisserie-ready orifice of your choice. Because I’m dining in for £20 — yeah, just me — and it’s STILL A PRIVILEGE.

Yeah, the wine. That’s what we were talking about, wasn’t it?

So — it’s got that initial jubilant fanfare of blackcurrant that you so often find in new world wines from these grapes (Domaine de Mourchon is made from 60% grenache; 40% syrah) — but, here, that gleeful fruit isn’t allowed to dominate. First of all it’s softened up by a delicious — almost bready — savouriness. Then it’s wrestled to the ground by stern tannins, their muscles laced with dark veins of pepper, spice, wood, leather.

And all the while there’s an alluring slip of aniseed waifing around, smiling coyly, just to confuse you.

Verdict

I don’t know about you, but I go weak and jibbly for wines that seduce me with a heady waft of fruit, then pull me up, slap me and strap me, look me fucking dead in the eye and ask me if I reckon I’m hard enough.

I suspect I’m not hard enough.

But get enough blood-oozing red meat and Domaine de Mourchon down my gullet and I might start to think I am.

Rating ★★★★ (4 stars)
ABV 14.5%
Price £14.50 from The Wine Society