Altolandon, Mil Historias 2017
Ask any sommelier what styles and varietals of wines are seeing sales growth, and you’ll normally be told that it’s all about rosé, Mediterranean varietals and organics. Some venues have seen rosé sales increase by as much as 40% while orders for sauvignon blanc (especially the highly aromatic styles) have declined as consumers are developing a preference for pinot gris, pinot grigio and organically made wines. And amongst the reds sold on premise, cabernet sales are declining, and shiraz is struggling to maintain its dominance as diners are becoming a little more adventurous and ordering Italian and Spanish varietals in preference to the mainstream.
One of the varietals which is doing very well of late is grenache. It’s the perfect compromise between the heavy and powerful cabernet and shiraz that too often dominate Australian restaurant wine lists, and the lighter pinot noir that offer all the fruit without the body. It’s actually one of the most widely planted red varietals in the world and can produce disparate outcomes in the glass depending on its place of origin. To be at its best, the grenache grape needs hot and dry growing conditions so looking to Mediterranean regions will generally reward in spades!
It's not widely available, but one region that does incredibly palatable grenache is the rocky Italian island of Sardinia where the grape is known as Cannonau di Sardegna. There, the locals commonly imbibe a glass or two at lunch time and have one of the highest life expectancies of anywhere in the world! But sadly, we don’t find too many Sardinian grenache on the shelves of our local bottle shops.
But if you’re a disciple to the grenache varietal and don’t mind looking abroad, the Altolandon Mil Historias 2017 might be an ideal fit for your audacious palate. It’s imported by Cellarmasters and sells at around only $20 a bottle. It ticks a lot of boxes as it sports the organic tag and is also handpicked, vinified using native yeasts and is vegan friendly. But best of all, it’s a pretty good grenache for the price point.
The Mil Historias is grown at a surprisingly high altitude of 1,100 metres above sea level on a vineyard northwest of Valencia in Spain. In the glass there’s a deep garnet hue with just a touch of violet around the edges. On the nose you’ll pick up black pepper, rose petals, cherries and a hint of rosemary. But once on the palate, there are ample raspberries, red fruit and cloves with a freshness that only a youthful grenache can offer. Given time to open up, the smokiness disappears and the influence of French oak and the brickiness of the clay amphora the wine rested in, becomes more apparent. The tannins are soft, ripe and not intrusive.
It’s not a style that you’d describe as elegant or complex, but it’s thoroughly enjoyable and a perfect lubricant for your next weekend barbecue, or just as an end of day wind-down!
Wine Category: Other Red
Travis Schultz is a wine reviewer for the Sunshine Coast Daily and The Grape Hunter extend their thanks to the Sunshine Coast Daily for allowing re-publication of his reviews