Once in a Blue Moon


Contrary to popular belief, if you keep a bottle of wine for years on end, it won’t necessarily get any better. The vast majority of wines these days are intended for early consumption.

They’re simply not made to last very long. The fine and distinctive wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy are another matter of course, but most everyday wines tend to deteriorate comparatively quickly, so if you have some bottles that have been lying around for a few years, drink them up now, because they won’t get any better especially in this climate.

Co-owner Vince Littore and Anthony, one of his sons.Co-owner Vince Littore and Anthony, one of his sons.

But be warned, unless you’ve stored them carefully in temperature-controlled conditions, they’re probably over the hill already and possibly half way down the other side.

Blue Moon Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (red) Australia (Bt. 355 @ Friendship)

Mario and Aurora Littore migrated to Australia in 1953 from the Mediterranean island of Lipari, just off the north coast of Sicily. After many years in Melbourne, they re-settled in Mildura where the family started their first vineyard near the Murray River. The company expanded dramatically and today Littore Family Wines have a storage capacity of 18 million litres and have crushing and winemaking facilities to manage 15,000 tonnes of grapes per annum.

For a Cabernet Sauvignon this wine certainly looks and smells the part: it’s a dark bright red; plenty of black currants on the aroma, hints of dried herbs and mint and a kind of woodiness in the background. You might also pick up reminders of strawberries. For a Cabernet this is a good start, for this is what they are supposed to smell like. Well, young ones anyway. As they mature, the aromas begin to change, and sometimes more subtle smells emerge, like cedar, mushroom, or even leather.

The fruit is very well forward and there’s a fairly soft mouth-feel with a tiny bite of acidity. There’s not much of the typical Cabernet tannin – at least not that I can detect. Well, perhaps there is a bit, but they seem to have really played it down. Nevertheless, this is a well-made wine with a rich and full taste and if you prefer a fruity easy-drinker with little tannin, you’ll probably enjoy this. It would make a pleasant partner for snacks or barbecue food. The touch of sharpness on the taste make it good accompaniment for pizza and pasta dishes too.

Purisima “Reserva Estate” Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (white) Chile (Bt. 459 @ Friendship)

Now, here’s a very different kettle of fish. Purisima wines are produced by the Hugo Casanova Winery, an award-winning Chilean company based in the Maule Valley. This light gold wine has a fascinating aroma. Sauvignon Blanc won’t give you the usual “tropical fruit” aromas that you might expect from a Chardonnay, for this grape is made of sterner stuff. Although there’s a very faint floral smell in the background, the aroma is dominated by a fresh, mineral, flinty kind of smell; the kind of thing that reminds me of a stony beach.  You might pick up hints of elderflower, freshly cut grass or the distinctive fresh aroma of green peppers. The smell is text-book Sauvignon.

The taste is very dry and with a jolly good dash of acidity which is typical for Sauvignon Blanc. This grape tends to produce vigorous wines at the best of times and it is good that the wine makers retained the true character of the grape and were not tempted to try and tame it. There are citrus flavours too which carry through on the long and dry finish.  At just 12.5% alcohol, the mouth-feel is surprisingly quite smooth, despite the lively taste.

Perhaps not surprisingly, this wine would show itself best with food. It’s a bit too powerful for oysters and shellfish – or so I was reliably informed. But it would make an excellent partner for fish dishes or even fish or chicken dishes with a creamy sauce. This is because the wine would “cut” the texture of the sauce and make a pleasing contrast. You could even drink it with the famous meal which every man, woman and child in Great Britain must have had at least once in their lives if not every week of their lives, fish and chips.

Actually, I think fish and chips are rather over-rated, even though I sometimes eat them myself. But not very often, you understand. Only once in a blue moon really.