wa2.gif (4241 bytes)

abut9.gif (3095 bytes)

abut12.gif (3207 bytes)
abut10.gif (3636 bytes)

abut11.gif (4039 bytes)


Shiraz, blind: a tasting with Robin Tedder MW

Held at Bibendum, June 2006

Robin Tedder MW is an Australian winemaker with a Scottish heritage: his winery is named Glenguin after the fact that he’s actually the Baron of Glenguin. He’s inherited the title from his grandfather, Air Chief Marshall Arthur Tedder who was awarded the title in 1946 after his service in the war (I’ve seen his grandfather’s uniform in the Royal Airforce Museum at Hendon). I’ve got a softspot for Glenguin: when I visited the Hunter Valley back in 2000 I tried a few of these wines and really fell for them. It’s a small family estate—‘8000 cases is a big year for us’, says Tedder—with a vineyard out at Broke and a plot of 66 year old dryland vines in Pokolbin.

‘For me, blind tasting is the only way to assess wine’, maintains Tedder. ‘If you know it is Château Latour you have all these influences knowing its history.’ So we got to taste this interesting and rather varied line-up of Shiraz/Syrah, which included a couple of Tedder’s Glenguin wines blind, which was fun. I’m reproducing my notes here just as written, with no after the fact editing, although the fact that it was single blind (where the list of wines tasted was provided) may have shaped perceptions where I think I’ve guessed the wine and then write my note accordingly. As you can see, blind tasting is an appropriately humbling experience: some I found easy, such as the Verset and the Grange; others were trickier. I was impressed by the performance of the Glenguins, although I have to say that the competition wasn’t as stiff as it could have been.

It was a slightly unusual tasting, though. The clientele was mixed: quite a few restaurant customers; few press. The rather glamorous girl sitting next to me gave a very good impression of never having tasted wine before in any professional capacity: she seemed completely bemused by the process, admitting a liking only for the biggest, sweetest wine, the Katnook. A sommelier’s girlfriend? Tedder delivered his spiel like an MW lecture where we were very clearly the students. And Bibendum’s Willie Lebus was at his dogmatic best, hollering his views from the back of the room. All quite amusing.

I should point out a few points on which I disagreed with some of the prevalent views at the tasting. First, the Bibendum crew fell in line with the Lebus opinion that the Verset was a crappy wine stuffed with brett. I actually quite enjoyed it: while it’s no classic, it does taste of where it has come from and I’d prefer drinking it to the soupy over-ripe absurdity (now I’m exaggerating for effect) of the Katnook and D’Arenberg. I was surprised by the Morgan, which I liked, even though it was a few years past its best by general consensus. On unmasking, I could see that this is probably the case, but tasted blind it showed quite well. Prices are Bibendum's.

Glenguin Schoolhouse Block Shiraz 2002 Hunter Valley, Australia
Spicy, earthy, slightly medicinal nose is fresh and leathery with some evolution. The palate shows an earthy, slightly oxidised character. There’s smoke and spice: is this a bit of brett? There’s nice fresh acidity; a bit rustic and spicy. Interesting in its style, with some ripeness and richness and a bit of new oak. Very good/excellent 90/100 My guess: Glenguin Schoolhouse (£13.48)

Noel Verset Cornas 2002 Northern Rhône, France
Slightly paler colour. Classic northern Rhône nose with a touch of green olive and a medicinal edge. Slightly animally. The palate is lean and expressive with nice, spicy, subtly herby fruit and lovely freshness. A lighter style, too green for some, but I like it. Very good/excellent 90/100 My guess: Verset Cornas (£16.16)

D’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 2003 McLaren Vale, Australia
Ripe, sweet new oak on the nose. Hint of coconut and vanilla. The palate is ripe and sweet with plenty of new oak and a soft structure. Seductive and concentrated but a bit simple. Very good+ 88/100 My guess: Katnook (£28.49)

De Trafford Blue Print Shiraz 2003 Stellenbosch, South Africa
Quite a distinctive roast coffee edge to the nose. The palate shows plump ripe fruit. Nice balance here, but spoiled a bit by too much roasted oak character. There’s some mineraliness hiding underneath all this. Very good+ 87/100 My guess: Glenguin Stonybroke (£14.42)

Morgan Shiraz 1996 California
Really nice, fresh, elegant red fruits nose: expressive and fine. The palate has a nice, earthy spicy character under the smooth fruit. Very good/excellent 91/100 My guess: Chapoutier. (No longer available)

Katnook Prodigy Shiraz 2000 Coonawarra, Australia
Overtly sweet, coconutty American oak on the nose. Quite off-putting. The palate is rich, ripe, soupy and sweet. Really concentrated, but too sweet and soft for me. Very good+ 86/100 (£33.10)

Chapoutier Hermitage Le Meal 2001 Nothern Rhone, France
Shy nose. Quite a fresh red fruits palate with some minerality. Good acidity supporting the nice fresh fruit. It’s a bit simple but could evolve nicely. European styled. Very good+ 89/100 My guess: Morgan (£89.96)

Glenguin Stonybroke Shiraz 2002 Hunter Valley, Australia
Nice meaty, olivey complexity to the ripe fruits nose. Nice freshness, with a minerality under the fruit. On the palate there’s a fresh spiciness together with a touch of greenness. Good structue. A little ‘dangerous’. Very good/excellent 90/100 My guess: De Trafford (£10.41)

Penfolds Grange 1999 South Australia
Spice, mint and menthol on the nose. There are ripe dark fruits, some clove, some spice and a bit of oak. There’s high-ish volatile acidity but it works in the style of the wine. The palate is concentrated and rich with lots of dense spicy fruit and what tastes like American oak. Very dense. Oaky but good. Very good/excellent 91/100 My guess: Grange (£109.28)

Wines tasted 06/06
Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

Back to top