Food & Drink

The Wine: Berton Reserve Barossa Shiraz

He might just have come back from Cuba, but Nick’s gone Down Under for this week’s red

So, at some point I did have to come back from Cuba; the weather was great, the rum and cigars even better and along the way I managed to bag myself a salsa lesson at the British Embassy. Don’t ask. So I here I am in merry old England – though if we are ‘merry’, then Cuba takes it to a whole other level, ecstatic old Cuba… I’ll keep working on it. Anyway, back to England, where I am greeted by a bone chilling coldness that won’t abate until sometime next year – we’re in this for the long haul people. Now the Cubans do rum brilliantly, wine however, is not one of their strengths. They rely on wine imported primarily from South America. I was rather looking forward then to getting into a warming bottle of red, something to make me forget the cold, or get me beyond sobriety enough that I don’t feel it. Enter then, a shiraz from Australia, the Berton Vineyards, which at a merry 14.5 percent, will certainly have me forgetting the cold – and possibly my address.

Berton is a relatively young vineyard: its vines only really started to establish themselves in the late 90s, but that hasn’t stopped the vineyard from becoming part of one of the largest wineries in Australia and garnering awards both domestically and internationally. The original vineyard is situated in the Barossa region of South Australia, in High Eden, and it is here that they still harvest fruit for their flagship wine Bonzai Shiraz, named after the sorry state of their early saplings. Originally set up by husband and wife team Bob and Cherie, after moving to a much larger winery their team has expanded with their success.

As I mentioned earlier, the wine is 14.5 percent, so it packs a hefty punch. It’s a blend of 93 percent shiraz, 4 percent durif and 3 percent of cabernet sauvignon, all grapes with big flavours, which is personally what I look for in a red, especially at this time of year. The colour is an incredibly inviting deep, dark red, and on the nose you really get the full hit of those grapes. There is a smorgasbord of berries and fruit, the ripest of black cherries, plum and blackberries all come to the fore. Go a little deeper and there’s hint of spice, with vanilla and touch of eucalyptus. In the mouth all these flavours come together, achieving a rich yet surprisingly well balanced taste, underpinned by a gentle spice that comes through from the tannins alongside the oak and vanilla on the way down. Enjoy this wine with robust red meat dishes, a shepherd’s pie would be ideal. Or perhaps retire with a cigar, a glass, or if you can stomach it, a salsa.Berton-Shiraz