The truth is, of course, that I hate Australian red wine. I loathe and despise the aesthetic ideal that dictates that red wine should have the consistency of pea soup, be sickly sweet with alcohol (and residual sugar), that it should be so dark it sucks in light from rooms away and with tannins as saggy as Shane Warne’s tits (with a similarly vomit-inducing mouth-feel).
These wines are simply disgusting. You cannot drink more than a glass of these vile confections without getting a pounding headache and feeling so nauseous you never want to look at food again in your life. Australian inky soup monsters are horrible and I hope I never have to drink one again.
I loved the Australian wine we had last night, because it was made by someone who also rejects the disgusting ‘over-ripe grapes equates to fine wine’ idea. Mac Forbes wants his delicate, stylish Pinot Noirs to reflect the conditions of the cool Yarra Valley vineyards in which they are grown. They are very rarely above 13% alcohol, pale in colour and throb with vineyard character in a way that would make growers of fine Burgundy proud. I also applaud him for aiming to keep his wines fresh, vibrant and fruity by bottling them with an inert plastic cork rather than risk any form of taint that can come with cork. Here’s last night’s bottle:
Lovely fruity nose, red fruits: redcurrants and raspberries. There is also a slight leafy hint suggesting this was not grown on one of the arid plains that many Australian winemakers call vineyards. Overall it is a very delicate, perfumed and refined nose.
The palate continues this delicate theme. It has a lot of fruit, for sure, but the fruit is just ripe, not a gluey concoction of alcohol and jam.
There is certainly a lot of acidity here, try finding that in Rockford Basket Press Shiraz! It is bright, fresh and nervy. Vibrant with energy and full of spunk to keep you laughing all the way to the end of the bottle!
Again there is a leafy, almost slightly unripe, character to it. I do not think it is unripe, it is just the character of the cool climate vineyard where this fruit was grown.
If I were given this wine blind I would chortle to myself and think I was onto a winner. The pale colour, bright, fresh fruit, high-ish acidity and slight leafiness would all make me think of one producer in Burgundy I have a particular soft spot for: Chandon de Briailles. The glistering minerality would further make me this it was one of their wines: a top Savigny-les-Beaunes Premier Cru or a top Pernand-Vergelesses Premier Cru.
Then my inquisitor would chuckle and tell me that it was actually an Australian wine, I would feel a fool for three seconds before saying, “Oh it is Mac Forbes then!” So one final diamond I’d snatch from the ash, in spite of it all, my panache.
This is a truly brilliant wine now. And there is a lot of emphasis on that ‘now’. Ageing Mac Forbes Pinot Noir wines is such a perversion it might well be listed as a mental disorder in the DSM-V psychiatry manual. You really don’t want to risk all of that young, vital energy, the glorious fresh fruit and the poised acidity which are all tied together in a delicate tannic structure. Keep this too long and lose any of that and you are a fool.
I think this is very keenly priced for a cult winemaker’s impressive effort in a vineyard that requires skill and character to make into something this utterly delicious (you can get Mac Forbes wines from Clark Foyster Wines. If you only drink one Australian wine this year, which is half the number I have drank, make it a Mac Forbes Pinot Noir (I will let you off if you drink one of his Rieslings which are also excellent and screaming bargains).