Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Wine Review: De Bortoli “DB Family Selection” Shiraz (2009)

De Bortoli “DB Family Selection” Shiraz (2009) Review:
Price: £7 per bottle
Availability: Supermarket

Australian Shiraz has garnered a reputation for big and bold flavours. It has also gained a reputation for delivering these big flavours at an affordable price point. With the exception of Argentinean Malbec (of which numerous excellent and full-on examples exist at very reasonable prices), it is possible that no other wine offers quite so much flavour per Pound as does Australian Shiraz.

This is reflected throughout the price spectrum. Widely considered the greatest Australian Shiraz, Penfolds “Grange” retails at a fraction of the price of the best first growth Clarets. Whilst entry level Australian Shiraz is available from £4 a bottle, entry level Bordeaux is as a minimum double that. And with the onset of a global recession and a British currency that is weak in the context of almost all other major currencies, it is not surprising that the more reasonably priced end of the market is what concerns the majority of British shoppers at the moment. Especially as we all love a decent Shiraz too! (Shiraz is one of the top three most popular red grapes in the UK at the moment).

It should come as no surprise then that this value end of the market is exactly the space that that this De Bortoli “DB Family Selection” Shiraz is targeting. Priced at around £7 a bottle this De Bortoli “DB Family Selection” Shiraz is priced a few Pounds beneath many “benchmark” Aussie Shirazs at around a tenner (think offerings from St Hallett, Yalumba and D’Arenberg) and a few Pounds more than supermarket entry level offerings. Consequently, this De Bortoli “DB Family Selection” Shiraz is potentially a wine that should appeal to both a consumer who is quality conscious and cost conscious.

De Bortoli itself is a well known Australian winery. Founded in 1928 by Vittorio and Giuseppina De Bortoli, who had emigrated from Northern Italy to New South Wales in the South Eastern corner of Australia, De Bortoli is still family owned and the third consecutive generation of De Bortoli’s tend the vines today. Originally based in Bilbul, New South Wales, De Bortoli today owns vineyard holdings across four different Australian regions (Yarra Valley, Hunter Valley, King Valley and Riverina) as well as making wine in Marlborough, New Zealand too.

A relatively new addition to the De Bortoli range (this 2009 De Bortoli “DB Family Selection” Shiraz is just the second vintage of this wine), the “DB Family Selection” range of wines is designed to represent the De Bortoli “name and legacy” and to take it into the future. This De Bortoli “DB Family Selection” Shiraz is made from Shiraz fruit from across several different vineyard sites in New South Wales, which is then pressed before fermentation with the Shiraz grape skins for 7 days, prior to resting, bottling and release.

Speaking of bottling this De Bortoli “DB Family Selection” Shiraz is an elegant looking wine sealed with a screw cap. A scarlet and white (split) front label highlights the grape variety, vintage and De Bortoli’s history whilst the top of the screw cap is adorned with De Bortoli’s family coat of arms.

In the glass, this De Bortoli “DB Family Selection” Shiraz is a consistent deep red with a slightly purple hue. There is a minimal fading in colour to the rim of the wine that denotes this wine’s relative youth. The alcoholic content is 14.5% which is now ordinary for Shiraz from the southern edge of Australia - some Shiraz runs as high as 16% in alcohol in this part of the world with the grape rarely seen producing wines with less than 14% abv.

When it comes to the aromas, this De Bortoli “DB Family Selection” Shiraz is moderately concentrated and deep, but limited in the variety of aromas on offer. Warmed cherries and mulberries come to the fore before an underlying spice breaks through to prickle the inside of your nostrils. Neither as open or oppressive as some South Australian Shiraz, but not unpleasant either.

In the mouth, this De Bortoli “DB Family Selection” Shiraz is an easy to appreciate style of Shiraz. Medium bodied and approachable, the palate initially shows nicely integrated fleshy plums and black hedgerow fruit before becoming somehow a little more hollow in the mid palate as these initially forward fruit flavours fade away. Into the finish there is a hint of spice and a little tannin grip comes in around the upper gums. The flavours fade quickly.

In all the overall impression with this De Bortoli “DB Family Selection” Shiraz is of an easy drinking style of Shiraz, without too much challenging structure or spice to dissuade people from another sip. Neither excellent or poor, this wine is a perfectly acceptable Aussie Shiraz, if not one which pushes the grape variety or region forwards. This De Bortoli “DB Family Selection” Shiraz would likely pair well with most red meat-based or tomato dishes. Alternatively, given it’s lack of overt spice or tannins, this De Bortoli “DB Family Selection” Shiraz would also make a perfect party or barbeque red.

De Bortoli “DB Family Selection” Shiraz (2009)

Score: 75/100 - Ultimately acceptable, but a lacks interest.

Value for Money: 6/10 – Fairly priced and a low risk choice.