Sunday, February 6, 2011

Castagna Genesis Syrah 2004 - a thrilling Australian red

I've been waiting for the right occasion to try this wine, which is part of the prestigious Langton's classification and last night we found it: we took it with us to dinner with a couple of friends who are really into natural wine*.

We weren't disappointed. It was simply sensational taking me back to the early days when I first tasted Aussie Shiraz and was just blown away by the intensity of flavour.

It's not called shiraz, mind you, but syrah by winemaker Julian Castagna of Beechworth in Victoria who farms his estate biodynamically. It apparently contains a proportion of viognier which suggests a desire to pay homage to Côte Rôtie.

It certainly has some of Côte Rôtie's exotic character - wild red fruits and violets - but then there were some unmistakably Australian notes in the liquorice, pepper and even a touch of tar. The freshness and acidity were surprising though and it wore its 14% alcohol very lightly. I would describe it as juicy if that hadn't become so debased as a tasting term. The fruit just went on and on.

It went very well with a braised leg of mutton but would have been great with pretty well any red meat.

The downside? It isn't cheap: £40 a bottle from The Wine Society. But if you think you could pay that on a wine of half the quality in a restaurant it doesn't seem quite so stiff.

Castagna btw is one of four Australian producers who are taking part in the Return to Terroir tasting at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival next month.

* Out of interest the wine was drunk on a Flower Day.

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