WINES OF THE WEEK.
3 AMIGOS 2008. McHenry Hohnen (£12.99, Wine Rack).
GREY GCM 2013. Vina Ventisquero. (£14.50, Planet of the Grapes).
THE HOLY TRINITY 2010, Grant Burge. (£24.95, www.winedirect.co.uk).
What would you serve with pork and sage sausages came the shout from the chef. Luckily, the match is quite straightforward so I was able to shout back immediately, “a heavy red”. So, that’s what they’re going to get; three big reds!
Two are from two regions of Australia and one’s from Chile but they have one thing in common. They all get their ooouumph from red grape varieties usually associated with the Southern Rhone Valley in the south of France; Syrah (known as Shiraz in Australia and Chile), Grenache and Mourvedre.
The Holy Trinity, as the name suggests, is a blend of these three grapes. Shiraz (36%), Grenache (38%) and Mourvedre (26%) are traditionally ‘at home’ in Chateauneuf du Pape but in the hands of a good winemaker they are also leading a real charge ‘Down Under’. If you ever hear a wine snob talking about ‘SGM’, don’t be shocked, he’s simply spouting off about this blend. The Holy Trinity grapes are hand picked from 50-100 year old, low yield vines grown in South Australia’s baking Barossa Valley which results in concentrated red cherry and blackberry flavours and a touch of spice that’s superb with the pork and the sage.
I was in Western Australia’s beautiful Margaret River a few years ago and was privileged to spend a couple of hours with two of Australia’s best known winemakers, Murray McHenry and David Hohnen. Perched in their tasting room overlooking the vineyards I remember their total passion for the southern Rhone varieties, “they are perfectly at home in our Mediterranean climate”, they told me. McHenry Hohnen’s cracking SGM goes under the “3 Amigos” label; the sharp eyed enthusiast will notice that the back label says that the ‘M’ stands for the Mataro; ‘don’t panic it’s simply another name for Mourvedre. This is the ‘drink me now’ member of the trio so there’s no excuse not to crack open a bottle with this warming early springtime dish.
The even sharper wine enthusiast will note that Ventisqueo’s ‘Grey’ is the odd one out as the blend includes a grape that isn’t one of the Southern Rhone belles; the wine includes 25% of Carinena (Carignan), one of the stars of the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France. Garnacha (Grenache) and Mataro (25%) are in there too. The grapes come from Chile’s Colchagua Valley south of Santiago, near the delightful town of Santa Cruz. The wine is more austere than the other two and needs food; the sausage dish will do nicely thank you.
For those of you who plan to crack open all three bottles with a large group of friends and a steaming dish of pork and sage sausages, and gravy of course, all I can say is ….. “you’re in for a cracking night!”