Cool Climate Australian Wines in Hsinchu
Tasting Plantagenet wines at BBQ House in Hsinchu, Taiwan
A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be hosted by Wine House and their partner business BBQ House in Hsinchu for a tasting of Plantagenet wines from Mount Barker in Western Australia. Thanks again to Thomas, Shirley and Alex for your hospitality and great food!
We tasted six wines from Plantagenet from three ranges. Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz from the premium Plantagenet range, Pinot Noir and Shiraz from the Three Lions range, which sits in the middle of the three, and a Cabernet-Merlot from the Lions Circle range, which is positioned at a slightly lower price point.
These are wines, I have to admit, I am a little biased about as I used to sell a lot of them during my time in the UK and they've always been great quality first and foremost, while also excellent value for money. Having not tasted them for a while until recently, the thing I was really struck by were the obvious effects cool climate effects on the fruit. Mt. Barker is in the Great Southern region of Western Australia which has a maritime climate, cooled by the Southern Ocean. In addition, Mt Barker is mostly above 400m elevation, so the fruit is grown in much cooler conditions than the vast majority of Australia's grapes. This gives the pinot noir a delicate and elegant character with good acid structure and bright raspberry, savoury and floral notes. We tasted the Three Lions range and the Plantagenet 'Normand' premium level. The latter had more earthy and sweet spice character with the acidity allowing the fruit to linger long on the palate. As a New Zealander, I'm not sure I'm supposed to like Australian Pinot Noir, but credit where its due, this is classy wine!
For those of you wanting to taste cool climate Aussie shiraz at it's best, track down a bottle of Plantagenet 'Lancaster' Shiraz. While still full of blackberry and dark cherry fruit, the nose has unmistakable black pepper, so typical of top Rhone Valley Syrah based wines. By the way, I recently found out that up to ten percent of the population can't actually smell the black pepper aroma, so don't fret if you don't get it! The relatively firm acidity (for Aussie shiraz) and well thought out use of oak along with generous, but not overpowering fine grained tannins make this a real class act. Drink it now or cellar it for 10+ years.
Another highlight for me was the 'Aquitaine' Cabernet Sauvignon. The tannins on this were quite firm with an abundance of blackcurrant fruit and leafy herbaciousness on the nose, possibly from the touch of Cabernet Franc in the blend. There is a subtle perfume also from a small amount of malbec added to the blend as well. Like the shiraz, the wines are approachable now, but will definitelyy age well for the next 10-12 years if you treat them nicely!
Accompanying our wines was some great food prepared by BBQ House. (you can see some pictures below) If you haven't eaten there yet and you're a steak fan in particular, you should get yourself there as soon as possible!
I ended my evening with a tour of Wine House's fantastic store and events lounge upstairs. They have a great set up for tastings and a fabulous range of wines. Great to see some good wines from the Loire valley in France, often an overlooked region in Taiwan. If you want to try something different and great for the upcoming BBQ season in Taiwan some Bourgueil made from (Cabernet Franc) will be a great change from your usual favourites. The lighter styles can even take some light chilling if the weather stays hot!
Hopefully you'll be able to find Plantagenet wines in Taiwan sometime soon, get in touch if you're interested.