By Fergal Gleeson
This week we turn to spiritual matters when I taste St Hugo Barossa Shiraz 2010 and La Croix de l’Ermite Les Chassis Crozes Hermitage 2008. We live in a secular and material world where religion is neither popular nor profitable but when it comes to wine labels wine marketers could not be more devout. Think Wirra Wirra Church Block, Chapel Hill The Parsons Nose, Charles Melton’s Nine Popes, and Glaetzer The Bishop.
Holy Wine Labels Batman we might be onto something here! Don’t get me started on the saints. There are more saint’s names on labels than you’ll hear at a children’s confirmation ceremony! St Hallett, St Huberts, St Henri, St Regis, St Aidan, St Isidore, St John’s Road. While they may not have been saints let’s not forget those chaste but happy Blue Nuns.
The St Hugo of the label I’m tasting this week is Hugo Gramp who wasn’t really a saint but a very good winemaker from yester year. This doesn’t usually qualify for beatification with the Vatican but does surely deserve a Taking Part Certificate! St Hugo is made by the wine giant Orlando who also manufacture Jacobs Creek but this is a more upmarket offering. Each bottle is serially numbered.
St Hugo Shiraz has a balance of dark fruit and chocolate flavour without being over sweet. Tannins are smooth in this Barossan which has power and weight but is not heavy footed. After 6 years this St Hugo is very pleasant drinking and still has a long way to go.
We move on to France to taste the same grape Syrah/Shiraz but a completely different style. This is a 100% Syrah from the Northern Rhone. La Croix de l’Ermite (The Cross of the Hermit) is medium bodied as 2008 was cold and wet so the fruit takes a back seat to savoury flavours. There’s a nice crisp acidity running through it that makes it fresh and keeps you wanting more. Northern Rhone wines in colder vintages have more similarities with Burgundian than Barossan reds. I think the Hermit is getting tired after 8 years so give him a break and drink now.
Such an evocative name The Cross of the Hermit- deserves drinking for that alone. One can picture a young zealot heading out into the wilderness of Southern France, away from the evils of man, with a burning fire in his soul to pursue a higher purpose….. the making and drinking of alcohol, the eating of wild game washed down with a hearty red. Bear Grylls meets St Augustine.
So there you have it two completely contrasting styles of the same varietal showing the versatility of the Syrah/Shiraz grape in different climates and hemispheres. In the great cellar of life there is room for bottles of all colour, creed and race. I think we can all say Amen to that!
St Hugo Shiraz- Rating: 3.5/5. Price: c$40. La Croix de l’Ermite- Rating: 3/5. Price: c$25. For more Wine Reviews read and follow www.greatwineblog.wordpress.com Drink and be merry!