23 September 2008
Margan Limited Release Barbera 2008
$30; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; drunk 6MAY10; 94++ points
Iberian ham. Smoked goat. Coal dust. Beetroot. Leather. Raw, sinuous and muscular, but full of rotting tendons. Then that rootable charcuterie porcetta! Great natural acidity and then the finest stinging tannins. Grazie.
Margan Limited Release Barbera 2007
$30; 14% alcohol; screw cap; drunk 18-20 OCT 09; 93+++ points
"Released to only a few friends", says the back label. Living where I do, on the middle of the bottom of Australia, it's important for this prime Virgo to have Andrew Margan away over on the east coast, in the Hunter Valley. He balances Vanya Cullen, away over on the west coast. So Australia has two good strong wings, and me feel safer in the middle. Ol' Jaques le Gris sailed away to Kangaroo Island, so I'm gonna have to taste this one solo. It would disturb him even more than the 05, below. It smells of feathers. Beetroot. Roast parsnips with caramelised tails. Licorice. The heart of fresh-hewn blackwood. Acetone bootpolish. Tuxedos. Trouble. It tastes faintly salty, like the sweat of Charlotte Rampling, who's wearing the tux. She left Helmut Newton's final nude shoot, of her sitting on the table in the room in Pamplona where the men meet to discuss the running of the bulls, put on her tux, danced all night, drank tempranillo, ate kalamata and hot chilli chorizos, and now she tastes like this. Maybe she rode a bull for awhile before she went out dancing. It seems essential that you drink it with that thicker sort of spaghetti that soaks up some sauce in its outer layer, but still stays nutty and al dente in the center, cooked with a darker tomato sauce with meatballs in it, made from steak with egg whites, grated cheese, garlic and black pepper. You'll find the recipe down near Calabria, but not quite that far down. Over on the Puglia side. Italy's terribly out of balance, see. It'll age beautifully, too. Barbary, see. A savage imbalace.
Margan Hunter Valley Barbera 2005
$25; 14% alcohol; screw cap; 93 points
“Jeez that stinks!” said my neighbour, Jacques le Gris. He’d been drinking bladder pack red in the Callington all afternoon, and must have been missing his polyvinylchloride. I think he meant this wine has an aroma of its own. Ripe rude meats, raw from a brushing, is what I smelled. Mum scrubbing the mulberry off a bathful of kids. I tried to explain what it’d be like with wild boar or roast swan (preferably white) stuffed with pine nuts, blue Wensleydale and silver beet, but he’d moved on to the cabernets, which he said he understood. Guzzle with big meats in sauces. www.margan.com.au
Quartier Mornington Peninsula Barbera 2005
$28; 14% alcohol; diam cork; 92++ points
In some areas, barbera can look like particularly saucy pinot noir, so it seems perfectly apt that Sandro Mosele, Mornington’s great pinot maker, should have a shot at it. (Quartier is a Port Phillip Estate brand used for purchased fruit.) Juicy, bright, fruiterer aromas and flavours abound here, but with sinister glints of blackpowder and gunmetal below – a most unpinot-like character. Its very firm, fine tannins need a few years to soften. I kept dreaming of gnocci in cream sauce with fresh habanero chilli. www.portphillipestate.net
King River Estate King Valley Barbera 2005
$25; 14.5% alcohol; Diam cork; 92 pointsFrom Slovenia, throughout Italy to Sardinia, barbera is second only to sangiovese in total plantings. Its name means uncivilised and wild. But this version’s dark and brooding with briar and chicory, and enough leather and old oiled walnut to smell like the inside of a Bugatti Royale. The palate’s nicely furry with tannin, sprung with persistent acidity. There’s enough fluffy, syrupy fruit to give the whole thing a rather mischievous, if not completely barbaric, glint of lively naughtiness. This wine is at its peak, and should be nudged within a year or two. It’s a bit like a rather vegetal pinot noir, with twists of caramelised parsnip tail. 20 NOV 08