Large producers like Wolf Blass need to be able to come up with tons of reliable and consistent product to produce a brand that consumers love and trust, and they do so, at a rock bottom price, here (£5), by sourcing grapes from a large expanse, much of which is produced mechanically and using irrigation in otherwise barren desert like conditions... Mr Purple Teeth was a confirmed fan of Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon when I met him 10 years ago, and although it's been a while, he had high hopes for this one.
A Purple Teeth reader commented via Facebook that he was thinking of reading my recommendations and doing the exact opposite, given that he loves Sauvignon Blanc and described Shiraz as basically fruit juice. Well, Nisse from Sweden, if this is the type of Shiraz you've been drinking, I can see why you think that. Trust me - this is not Shiraz as we know it.
As far as red wine at £5 a bottle goes, there's nothing wrong with it. It's easy drinking, medium-bodied, full of fruit flavour, and reasonably refreshing on a summery day. Where I quibble, is that this wine is totally unrepresentative of Australian Shiraz at it's best. I'd struggle to pick it out in a blind tasting, and bear in mind that Shiraz is probably the grape I consume most of among all vitis vinefera, so that's not a good sign.
On the nose there is a hint of the black fruit and pepperiness, but nothing else that really marks this out as a Shiraz. Mr Purple Teeth was also unimpressed: "That's Wolf Blass? Really?".
My guess is that the Vineyards Release Brand is generally at a lower price point than the Yellow or Red Label versions, and perhaps we've just become a bit spoiled with our £12 bottles...
The label, on the other hand, indicates I should find "lifted berry, spiced plum, red fruits, pepper and mocha oak on the palate", so perhaps I've just got some more work to do in refining my tastebuds. At 13% abv, it's a lot lighter than many Barossa Shirazes, and was perfectly drinkable without food, although the suggested food matches are lamb or pasta. But just to prove that we're all different, our Purple Teeth reader who incited my foray into Asda's wines, claims this to be one of her favourites. And why not? We're all different, and there's a wine out there for everyone. That's why I get a tad annoyed when people say "I don't like wine", or "I only drink red". Wine is an amazing product. There's more variety than you can ever imagine, and the supermarket shelves just scratch the surface of what's available.
On my recent Shropshire trip, I had a good hour in Tanner's Cellars - a cathedral to wine if ever there was one. True, there wasn't much available at £5 but they had a pretty great selection of wines under £7 and when you consider tax and duty is probably over £2.25 on every bottle, let's remember there's not a lot of wine value in a £5 bottle.
With Wine of the Week and Purple Teeth in general, I'd love to inspire you to try wines you'd never normally try; to experiment, to savour the difference, to look for food combinations, and to find a new favourite wine. Do please let me know how you get on if you try something new. I'd love to hear your stories.
Meanwhile, Wine of the Week will be going on hiatus. I'm heading out to Japan on Thursday, and apart from Sake, I'm not quite sure what access I will have to wines that you might be able to get your hands on. I've never tried sake before, so I will certainly do so and report back. If you want some wine homework for the next month, then please try something new and post your photos and comments on the blog or on our Facebook page so that our other readers can get to know what you all love.
So please feel free to interact with me here using the comments, or on Twitter and Facebook or Google Plus where I'm sure I'll find time to play along during my travels.
On my return from Japan, I'm off to Serbia to visit a winemaker, and more news of that will surely follow, and then, to Hungary for dancing, dancing and more dancing. So, expect news of the next Wine of the Week in early June. Until then, Kampei! Cheers!