What’s wrong with this picture? Quite right: finger food is an abomination to the Lord.
Grab a glass of red – it seems to be a rejuvenating drink again.
Red wine goes in and out of health fashion. But now it’s back as a possible preventer or fighter of ageing diseases.
That good news for wine lovers comes thanks to the efforts of 30 researchers from around the globe.
They’ve produced a paper saying that under certain conditions SIRT1, the human sirtuin protein known to combat many age-related diseases, can be activated by resveratrol and other sirtuin-activating compounds (STACs).
Resveratrol is a natural compound in red wine, their article in the journal Science says.
Resveratrol was hailed for doing this in 2003.
But follow-up studies called its sirtuin-activating abilities into question.
Now these researchers have shown SIRT1 can indeed be activated by resveratrol and other STACs in the laboratory, but only under certain conditions.
The results suggest STACs remain, for now, a viable strategy for addressing many diseases associated with aging, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and type 2 diabetes, the journal says.
Sadly, my GP reckons one glass of red wine a day is healthy, two or more just gives my blood pressure a kick. Given that I have never understood the concept of opening a decent bottle of red and not finishing it, this is only partly cheery news.
Then again, it is a matter of time until they pronounce that in fact generations of Froggies and Eyeties are right, and necking a quick bottle or two of ruby throat charmer with every dinner is, in fact, a good idea.
To prepare for that glorious day, and with an eye on our national export figures, we provide below James Halliday’s Top Ten Aussie red wines under AUD$20 a bottle, so you overseas types can experience something other than Jacob’s Creek, although that remarkable staple winemaker often makes the list and is always reliable.
Halliday is Australia’s foremost wine writer and his comments accompany each recommendation, all vintages are current, and we make an occasional comment too.
The McGuigan Black Label Red – is an approachable, medium bodied style with a nice combination of ripe, soft fruit flavours and the perfect balance of tannin to provide some structure. Not only a great wine to have around great friends and family, but also at home when paired with a wide array of cuisine including barbecued meats and salads.
Artillery Place Grapeshot Shiraz – McLaren Vale is known for producing Shiraz of the utmost power and balance. With its maritime influences and ancient soils perfect for viticulture, Shiraz simply thrives in the region. Artillery Place harness this ability perfectly with their Grapeshot Shiraz. Layers of purple and blue fruits complemented by regional pepper and spice, this is a Shiraz crying out to be paired with juicy steak or slow-cooked Osso Bucco.
Annie’s Lane Shiraz – a typically full flavoured Clare Valley Shiraz from the crew at Annie’s Lane; exhibiting ripe, plummy fruit characters with a touch of spice and some regional minty notes.
Riddoch’s Cab Sav – John Riddoch was the man responsible for putting Coonawarra in South Australia on the map after establishing the Coonawarra Fruit Colony in 1891. Today, Coonawarra and its famous ‘terra rossa’ strip of limestone rich soil is home to some of Australia’s greatest Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards. This Riddoch Cabernet is an exciting expression of the region with its deep purple colour, spicy plum, chocolate and toasty vanillan aromas which are followed by a luscious palate of blueberry and accompanying eucalypt accented spice. (I have just ploughed through a dozen of these at home – not all at once, I hasten to add – and I can confirm it is remarkable value and very easy drinking.)
Chris Ringland Shiraz – has been one of Australia’s most loved wines over the past few years with its immense concentration of bold, forboding fruit. Chris Ringland, the man behind such famous names as Three Rivers and Rockford Basket Press Shiraz, creates a wine that is made from mature Northern Barossa vines and shows dark mass of concentrated black and blue fruits, laced with sweet mocha and wrapped in a smooth, velvety texture. Not for the faint of heart, the CR Shiraz is improving vintage on vintage.
Tanunda Hill Shiraz – tThe Barossa Valley is renowned across the world for producing rich, ripe, full-bodied Shiraz the envy of most. Micro-climates within the Barossa can also provide individual nuances – much like this Tanunda Hill Shiraz which embraces the warmer temperatures experienced by the vineyard on Gomersal Road. Spice, blueberry, mocha and dark chocolate all play their part in a sumptuous Shiraz experience that lingers on the taste buds for an extended time.
The Bowler’s Run Cabernet Merlot – Bowler’s Run wines continue to prove sure fire winners for the price savvy consumer. Fresh and fruit driven, this delicious, youthful blend has loads of sweet blackcurrant cabernet fruit flavour with the supple texture of Merlot.
Make a friend for life: treat Mrs Wellthisiswhatithink to some Church Block.
Wirra Wirra Church Block – Church Block first appeared back in 1972 under the watchful eye of Greg Trott who was taken by one of the original vineyards that ran alongside the small Bethany Church, across the road from Wirra Wirra’s old ironstone cellars. Over the last 4 decades, Church Block has become one of Australia’s favourites with its rich, full-bodied style consisting of swathes of black and blue fruits and a nice, smooth finish that seems to last ever so long for such an affordable red wine. (A gorgeous concoction of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Merlot, this is a continuing “yes, please” for Mrs Wellthisiswhatithink. Amazingly consistent and at around AUD$18 a bottle in Australia it rivals top European and American wines costing five or six times more.)
St Hallet “Gamekeeper’s” Shiraz – St Hallett and Shiraz goes hand in hand when you start talking about the Barossa. Blended from over 100 parcels of Shiraz that enter the winery, this great value wine is suitable for almost any food match you can think of. As they say at St Hallett, don’t be shy.
Annie’s Lane Cabernet Merlot – ripe and generous, the leafy, minty characters of Cabernet are complemented by the softness and plummy fruit coming from the Merlot. A nice touch of sweet oak completes the picture.
Taylor’s Cabernet Sauvignon – consistently good value for money, this Clare Valley Cabernet from Taylors shows ample varietal blackcurrant flavour seasoned with some attractive sweet oak. The tannins are firm but nicely in balance. (Another South Australian wonder. Consistently is right – it hardly seems to vary in quality year on year despite differing seasons – often better than wines costing three times as much.)
Taylors Shiraz – continues to be one of the most outstanding value for money Shiraz available. Widely acclaimed by many critics, this Shiraz is true to its region and variety, showing ripe plum and blackberry fruit with minty notes in the background. A touch of vanillin oak adds some wonderful interest.
Seppelt Chalambar Shiraz – This label is offering some of the best value Shiraz on the market. Spicy elegant characters of Grampians fruit is expertly combined with the fuller flavour of Bendigo Shiraz.
Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Shiraz – with a history going back to George Wyndham and his planting of vines in 1830, this heritage is honoured with varietal styles like this Shiraz. Rich plum and berry fruit flavours complemented by soft tannins and well-integrated oak. A great wine with a variety of red meat and tomato based pasta dishes.
Penfold’s Koonunga Hill Shiraz – this supple, elegant and beautifully aromatic wine shows classic blackcurrant and cedar characters, supported by the gentle oak maturation that is so distinctively Penfolds.
Other good value reds include: Mount Langi Billi Billi Shiraz, Deakin Estate Shiraz, Thorn-Clarke Shotfire Quartage, Sandleford Rosé, Majella ‘The Musician’ Cab Shiraz, Jacob’s Creek Cab Shiraz or Cav Sav, Turkey Flat Rosé, and Teusner The Riebke Shiraz.
About as good as it gets …
And if you’re celebrating something special, here’s Wellthisiswhatithink’s “Once In A Lifetime” recommendation, with the appropriate tasting notes, circa AUD$550 a bottle and climbing.
Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz 2005
If Penfold’s Grange Hermitage is the greatest example of a multi-regional Shiraz, then surely the Hill of Grace is the greatest single site expression of the variety.
Hill of Grace is carefully crafted by Stephen & Prue Henschke from an 8ha site in the Eden Valley.
The 2005 is a stunning, layered masterpiece.
Near the top are rose petals, violets and Turkish Delight.
Aromas of fruits of the forest and mulberry emerge next, sitting atop deep-seated spice, tar and anise.
Truly an incredible Australian wine.