Wednesday 7 September 2011

Penley Estate Hyland Shiraz 2009/ Co-Op Pontorno D'Avola

Full disclosure: the following wine was given to Sediment as a gracious freebie by the good people at Moreno Wines, and while I would recoil from giving the impression that the bums at Sediment (and their opinions) can be bought off by the application of free drink, I am at the same time compelled to reveal that Penley Estate Hyland Shiraz 2009 is not only excessively tasty, but charming, well-formed and would be the ideal accompaniment to cheese or red meats. In fact, its only drawback is that sells in the UK for something around £16 a bottle, which puts it in Fantasy Grog territory for me, and to be honest, I can think of no foodstuff or occasion which would merit £16 for a bottle of red, but all the same.

Having arrived freely at our house, the bottle actually lay around for a bit while I nerved up to savour the incredible drink it contained; but at last I put on the PK-approved wine tasting outfit (Evening Dress, Decorations), set up my Master of Wine shingle, got out the proper Paris Goblets, gave the stuff time to breathe and hefted my biro for the tasting notes.

Which reveal in the cold light of day: 'Big oaky nose + touch of creosote'; 'Big tannins'; 'Massive loganberry taste'; 'Slightly abrupt whoof at the back of the throat'; 'Chocolatey finish'. After that, coherence becomes a casualty of ethanol, and I note a 'Slight feeling of having acquired extra jowls'; 'Big! Huge! Like swallowing a beachball!'; and, at last, a dying fall in which I actually wrote down, 'Well, you're not in Kansas any more, Dorothy.' Not bad for a mere bottle of wine, eh?

It was, in other words, big and delicious, and I won't be drinking anything as nice as that for another six months.

But here's something: I couldn't finish the bottle in one go, so I stuck the cork back in and returned for the rest the following day. And while it was still good, some of the energy seemed to have gone out of it. An air of pathos had set in. Which was odd for something which, the day before, had been all about size and girth and costliness; as if a gorilla had suddenly turned out to be a chimp in a suit. Or was it just the chemistry in my mouth playing games?

Anyway, as the Penley ran out, I found myself moodily unscrewing the cap of a £4 (special offer) Pontorno Nero D'Avola from the Co-Op, drinking a bit and finding it tasted pretty much of grape juice and Avgas, perfectly okay for £4, putting the cap firmly back on and returning to that the next day in my rolling programme of drinking. By which time the Nero D'Avola had mysteriously acquired a personality, a kind of defiance. No longer grape juice: more like real carafe wine, as it might be from a glass container in a nice West End bistro. I smirked at it, acknowledging the effort it was putting in to make itself intriguing, drank a bit more, put the cap back on, returned to it on day three, by which time, it was even darker, chewier, gnarlier in a good way, and when I finally polished off the dregs, I was sad to see it go. Who'd have thought, all this entertainment for £4?

So where does that leave us on the Great Wine Graph, in which the x-axis is Price and the y-axis is Sensation Delivered, and we are always hoping to get as close to the Origin on x and the top of the scale on y, giving a fantastical spike followed by indefinite flatlining (Although PK's Graph, I think, would be much more a classic Bell Curve)? 

Since the Penley was, so far as I was concerned, going for £0, that ought to have made it the steal of the decade, even though it wasn't, it was £16. Therefore and conversely the winner was clearly the Nero D'Avola on a bangs/bucks calculation, except (can you believe it?) it had previously been on sale at a grotesque £8 a bottle, abjectly flogged off by the Co-Op at half price in recognition of the fact that only an idiot would pay that much for something so undependable. Which puts the Penley back on top place, except for the fact that £16 (blame the strong Australian Dollar, maybe) still seems kind of steep, even when it comes down to £0 and the Nero D'Avola goes up to £8. 

The Graph, therefore, cannot place these two drink experiences anywhere on the bangs/bucks continuum, because they have no consistent real world price

And as a consequence of that, there is only one way out of the impasse: it's time to go back to Kansas, Dorothy.


1 comment:

  1. Freebies, eh? Is this the start of the selling out?! ;)


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