On both occasions that Iíve tasted through the Mitolo wines Iíve come away impressed (see e.g. here). Made by new Aussie superstar Ben Glaetzer, theyíve seemed to combine ripeness and size with a good degree of that almost indefinable character shared by most fine wines: elegance.
I was quite looking forward to comparing the 2001 and 2004 vintages of the Reiver Barossa Shiraz in the relaxed setting of the Goode kitchen, where itís not just a question of a sniff, a slurp, a spit and a rapidly penned note. At home thereís time to revisit a wine; to drink it; to try to get to understand what it is saying.
I uncorked the 2001 (the 2004 is screwcapped), and took a sniff. Very sweet and forward, not much else. A few minutes later and I came back to it. It wasnít quite right. Under the sweet fruit was a faint earthy, slightly musty edge. This persisted for a couple of days. I can only assume itís fallen victim to some low level cork taint. Not enough for it to be obvious, but enough for the wine not to be working properly.
So on to the 2004. Initially this showed sweet jammy fruit, but after a while it developed a savoury nose of red and black fruits, with good purity and a minerally, tarry core. The concentrated palate showed lots of sweet fruit and some spicy tannin, with a hint of greenness. The second day it became complex, chocolatey, spicy and liquoricey, with good structure.
It wasnít utterly convincing, though (and when I checked back later, I saw that this was the least impressive of the premium wines when I'd tasted them before, although it was still pretty good). Then I looked more closely on the back label. This wine was labelled Ďlate harvestí, and the displayed alcohol level was 15%. Iím not saying that itís fundamentally wrong to have high alcohol levels: some wines can carry this. Grenache, in particular. But it does affect the wine when you reach levels of 15%, which I think is just too much for most table wines to bear. Would this wine have come across better at lower alcohol? You know, it might have done. It's hard to say, for sure, and Ben has to work with what nature gives him. But high alcohol is an issue that worries me.