Stanley Wines Dolce Rosso Red Lambrusco Best Before August 09
$12 for 4 litres; 10.5% alcohol; bladder pack; 53 points
The filling line must have been going a little too fast for the machine to give this box its batch number, so I can neither give you a batch number nor guarantee any chance of you drinking this product from the same tank that exuded mine. But that’s probably minor to those who’ll be buying this masterwork from the geniuses at Constellation, or Galaxial, Milky Way, or Heavens’ Sake, or whatever they’re now called – it’s the transnational which devoured Hardy’s, which once devoured the little Clare Valley winery called Stanley’s. (Funny how they dropped the Hardy’s name but retained Stanley.) The box says the winery’s at Buronga, but I don’t think it’s the one in the western Darfur desert. While 25% of the contents do purport to come from South Africa, I think they mean Mildura, in the brand new desert we’re developing in the Murray Valley. “NEW NAME SAME WINE” says a little feature on the pack, “... Red Lambrusco can only be used to describe wines true to its varietal origin [sic]”. While the Etruscans probably invented lambrusco, the drink, there are now some 60 known clones of Lambrusco, the variety, many of which don’t grow in Lambrusco, the place. But while the manufacturer’s disclaimer appears to suggest the absence of any of these clones from this silver pillow, we can’t completely rule out the possibility that some may have snuck in. And while Constellation is removing one highly deceptive Italian name from the pack, it’s replaced it neatly with another. Dolce means fresh, smooth, gentle, sweet, tender and amiable. This wine smells like oak chips imported -- oak essence is not permitted, so it must be chips -- from the USA as much as red wine from anywhere, so half the new name -- the rosso bit -- is probably getting closer to the truth. It’s sorta amorphous aromatically, but remains true to its Australian sauce source, the Murray Valley. They’re really starting to get some terroir into their wines up that way since they used up all the water: amorphous is becoming a distinct regional characteristic. So they could have correctly called this Amorfo Rosso. It has a slight volatile edge, which I think the learned critic could put down to the USA, for its wood, and Africa and the Murray Valley, for their fruit, as much as to any particular winemaker. I can’t smell much polyvinyl chloride. For various reasons, I’m reluctant to actually tip this drink into my head, which is why I’ve already written so much. But as Neil Young famously wrote, comes a time, and mine is nigh. Well: Sweet? Certainly. Very sweet. Probably sweeter than Coke. Fresh? As fresh as cordial syrups can be. Smooth? As smooth as the syrup in a can of prunes. Gentle? Compared to Victoria Bitter, yes. Tender? No. Amiable? No. The drinker of one of these bags may pass through a brief window of amiability before bashing the wife, or the hubby, and the kids, or at least killing somebody in a car accident, if indeed any of that occurs, which, of course may not, but the wine itself is not, in my opinion, amiable. It tastes like port lite. If I was dying of thirst in the Mildura desert, and this was all that was on offer in the drinks department, I might consider having it with soda and vodka on the rocks, probably garnished with a mint leaf. I’d put it down in front of me, stare at it until I died, and then complain directly to Jesus or the Devil or whoever is there to meet me. I can’t imagine either of them tolerating anything like this drink, so I’d be expecting sympathy. And how you can justify transporting goonjuice of this quality all the way from Sethefrika, then selling it at $3 a litre, beats me. Maybe they ran the ship on it, which would explain why they had to top the tank up with Australian when it got here. But we do have two billion litres of this sort of thing lying around Australia, unsold, so why did they bring the ship from Sethefrika in the first place? To pick up some of those two billion litres, dunderhead, and take them somewhere else! Don’t you know anything?