‘When you find a wine you like, keep buying it’ sounds like good advice. But things aren’t always as simple as that. Weather variations might mean that next year’s bottle will taste very different to this year’s. Also, winemakers move on and their replacement may have other ideas and, over time, styles and fashions change. And, of course, so might your own taste as you sample more widely. As a result, the wine you loved a few years ago may not be the wine you want to buy now.
But there’s another reason for abandoning an old favourite:
I first tasted Mount Langi Ghiran Shiraz more than 20 years ago and loved it instantly. Although a big, concentrated wine, it was far more elegant than any other Australian Shiraz I had ever tasted. And, for a good reason: rather than coming from the Barossa or one of the other warm regions noted for the grape, this was from the much cooler, high altitude Grampians region of Western Victoria. The lower temperatures meant that the grapes ripened slowly, picking up more flavours than would otherwise have been the case, and could be picked at lower potential alcohol levels, resulting in the style I was so taken with.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only person who found Langi Ghiran attractive and, over the years, the price has consequently gone through the roof. A bottle that could once be (almost) every day drinking is now £50 plus – a figure I only stretch to for very, very special occasions. But, thanks to the Wine Society, I can still enjoy a Shiraz made by Langi Ghiran: the Society’s Exhibition Victoria Shiraz (the 2014 vintage is currently available for £16) is made by the same producer and, whether it is made from younger vines or bought-in grapes, I don’t know. But it does give much of the taste and style of the estate wine – at an affordable price.
We recently opened a bottle of the 2012 vintage that had been sitting on a rack under our stairs for a number of years and it was quite delicious with some venison steaks marinaded in sugar and orange juice and with a gin and juniper berry sauce. It was, however, only just ready to drink (after several hours decanting) so, if you buy the 2014, as I will, do leave it for a couple of years at least before you enjoy an outstanding wine and a real bargain.