Wine talking: The meaty Arabella Reserve 2009 Shiraz Viognier

Naked wines Arabella

So, I got sent a free bottle of wine. There I’ve said it. I sold out for a bottle of booze. In return for writing a little something for the Jamie Oliver website about it. But you know what? It was pretty damn good and so, disclosure disclosed, I’m going to write about it here to.

Weighing in at a hefty 14.5% this is not something to take lightly and it definitely does not go with super subtle, delicately flavoured food. No sir. This is intense and brooding, complex and interesting. More Jonny Depp than Gerard Butler (oops, the strange analogies have started already).

Oh well, in for penny… Arabella’s reserve 2009 Shiraz Viognier is a real belter with great length (ie the taste follows the liquid down your throat, and then lingers for the after party), full of interesting flavours. What really hit me on first gulp (no sip ‘n’ spit here) was the tang of red meat and a hint of smoke, rare steak cooked on the bbq with just a hint of maple in there somewhere.

There were plenty of the expected fruit flavours – cherries, blackberries and whatnot. But there was also a hint of cinnamon bark, and just a touch of savoury sweetness, like molasses or a really dark honey. And it wasn’t too tannic either (by which I mean it didn’t have too much of that tooth-furring dry bitterness).

What really interested me was what food it would go with. Given those smokey meaty flavours, BBQ is a given, sausages maybe or a good rib eye. Maybe some grilled lamb chops. But the best match for me was with a North Indian lamb pilaf.

The meat complemented the smokey and fruity notes in the wine, while the aromatic and spicey sauce picked up the slight honeyed sweetness and cinnamony edge of the wine. And crucially, because the wine was smooth and not too tannic, it didn’t taste astringent with all those spices. Instead it added to the all round warmth and balance of the meal.

It’s something I’d happily buy at a tenner a bottle from Naked Wines. It’s a perfect food wine, or one to drink by itself. But at 14.5% you’ll need to watch the head the next morning…

7 Responses to “Wine talking: The meaty Arabella Reserve 2009 Shiraz Viognier”

  1. Mr Noodles

    Very intriguing – a blend of one of my fave reds (Shiraz) with one of my fave whites (Viognier – the thinking man’s Chardonnay). I get the feeling from your review that the Viognier is a smoothing agent (not sure if that’s a proper wine concept!) but in what other way does it add to the Shiraz?

    The thing is that I’d be reticent to go for this on the basis that I’d stick with Shiraz or more orthodox Shiraz-based blends e.g. with Grenache.

    PS: Am liking this new wine spin-off!

  2. The Grubworm

    @Mr Noodles – it is an intriguing wine this one. I love it and I am no fan of Viognier (I find it a bit too rich). I would definitely give it a go, becuase it does not taste like your typical Shirz/Syrah.

  3. Leluu

    Lovely write up – I love this wine, we were sent it when we did the Foundation dinner. x

  4. Old Parn

    Ah ha — I just received a bottle of this yesterday from Naked Wines, so shall look forward to sloshing it into my gob after reading your review.

    More wine writers should pursue strange analogies, in my book.

  5. The Grubworm

    @Leluu – Thanks! It was a tasty wine wasn’t it?

    @Old Parn – I hope it is/was a good one. And strange analogies are fun, so I agree :)

  6. Jeanne @ CookSister!

    Mmmm, sounds fab! Arabella do make some very lovely wines – even their cheap non-reserve range is very gluggable. Just in answer to a previous commenter – Syrah/Viognier is a classic French blend from the Cote Rotie region of the Rhone, so pretty orthodox, really!

  7. The Grubworm

    @Jeanne – ah, the mystery of French blends – i had no idea it was a Cote Rotie blend either. But thats part of what makes French wine so interesting, their emphasis on region/terroir over the grapes. Hard to get your head round, but ultimately probably a more accurate way to label wine for taste etc.

    And those Arabella wines are really very tasty.

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