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WINE OF THE WEEK: Wirra Wirra Church Block 2016, McLaren Vale, Australia

£9.99 (on offer) Waitrose; £10.11 (on offer) Ocado

I've just done a captivating and illuminating tasting of 12 wines chosen as Australia's future icons*. Running freely across region, grape variety and style, themes emerged nonetheless: a focus on specific sites and vineyards, Australia's old-vine heritage, and low-intervention winemaking among others. There was an orange wine and other new-wave wines, but there were also some classics, which is where this week's wine comes in.

Church Block has been made since 1972, when it got its name from the vineyard by the little Bethany church that lies across the road from Wirra Wirra’s century-old cellars. It’s been going ever since, remarkably affordable and surely now a classic. I’ve tasted a lot of vintages over the years and never been anything but impressed by the quality, value for money and, a bonus at the price, how well it ages (a decade or more in cellar conditions).

It’s not a challenging wine, but that’s its beauty. It’s all about generosity – ripe black fruit set off by leafy freshness, cedary spice and the smoothness of oak. It goes well with red meat, pork, duck and, thanks to the generous fruit and freshness, with vegetables too. It also goes down well with nothing more complicated than a good book and a comfortable sofa. 14.5% 

Wirra Wirra Church Block Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz/Merlot 2016, McLaren Vale, Australia

On offer at £9.99 Waitrose, and £10.11 Ocado, down from £13.49 until 8/10/19; £12.50, The Wine Society

* 12 wines chosen jointly by fine wine specialist Andrew Caillard MW (sounds British, is British but has been an Australian resident for 36 years and has a direct family connection to the earliest days of the South Australian wine industry) and Mike Bennie, a Sydney-based freelance wine writer, presenter, festival organiser, producer, wine merchant et al. Men of many parts. Like Bennie, Caillard also produces wine.


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