Another day off today. We kind of stumbled along till lunchtime then decided to go out. Drove to Box Hill, near Dorking, where we spent a few pleasant hours wandering up and down hills and through woodland. [Pictured left is a view of the Denbies wine estate from the summit of Box Hill.] The weather was on and off, but mostly sunny. Typical English summer, really, but with just a hint of incipient Autumn, which isn't far around the corner. I always feel these last days of summer are precious; we have to make the most of them. And the pleasure is tinged with a sense of regret that summer is almost past, and we could have made more of it. As we were leaving the clouds gathered and rain began to fall, almost as if it sensed the mood.
Got in the car and drove south, ending up in Brighton (right), where we spent a couple of hours wandering along the seafront, and had an early dinner. It was sunny here, and quite warm. It was worth the journey.
This evening, opened another of my Andrew Chapman purchases - I was in the mood for a big Aussie.
Rolf Binder Wines Heysen Shiraz 2002 Barossa Valley, Australia
I get the impression that I've opened this one before its time: it's quite serious, but the nose is initially dominated by coconut and vanilla from the new American oak - it's hard to get past this to the concentrated, spicy and rather complex fruit. There's also a touch of alcoholic heat showing: it's a wine that isn't currently at ease with itself. But don't let this put you off. If you have the patience to stick this away for five years, I reckon you'll be rewarded by a complex, expressive Barossa red of real intensity. As well as the deep, pure fruit there's some good tannic structure, and the oak will likely subside into a supporting role with a couple of years in the bottle. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£12.74 www.surf4wine.co.uk)
Interestingly, my impression of this wine in the Barossa a while back tallies fairly closely (see here, where you can also see pics of the vineyard the wine comes from).