Wine is unrivalled in the world of beverages for the influence time and season have on its ever changing personality. The 2013 Laughing Magpie has just now reinforced that lesson for me. Upon tasting this wine in early Summer 2017 it was bursting at the seams with typical young, fruity Shiraz characters, think plum, mulberry, milk chocolate and sweet liquorice. The tannin and acid profile at the time however, sat a bit awkwardly against the juiciness of the wine. Now, as the colder months have set in I notice those sweet fruited scents slowly retreating and a darker, more savoury aspect to this wine revealing itself. Mulberry and plum give way to black olive, cedar and cinnamon; milk chocolate has evolved into dark chocolate, the serious type with lots of cocoa; and the sweet confectionary liquorice appears more like slightly salty Dutch liquorice. The tannins have taken on a chalky edge and the mouthfeel, whilst densely packed, feels much more streamlined. From experience and taking into account the concentration of this wine, I expect the sweetness to re-emerge in the coming months. Plums and mulberries will continue to please but add to that sun dried figs and boysenberry pie. And watch the texture evolve as the wine becomes ever more velvety. A Shiraz Viognier that will suit everyone from the most avid wine connoisseur seeking a thought provoking experience through to someone who just wants to enjoy a quality red wine with their barbecued steak.
Wines from d’Arenberg always offer up a lot of fun, starting with their quirky names and interesting labels. But make no mistake: This is a top-shelf winery that excels at every price level in the portfolio. This nicely mature current release shows plenty of punch to identify it as an Aussie Shiraz, but time in bottle plus a little dollop of Viognier add real complexity and class, with almost no overt wood. Very polished tannins lend enough grip to the finish to enable this to work well with a rack of Australian lamb, but it is so versatile that it would also pair very nicely with pork, duck or veal.