Bordeaux blends Margaret River-style

Last week I discovered that “hair of the dog” is as applicable to holidays as hangovers.  The evening after I returned from a particularly fabulous break in Western Australia (see my top 10 tips here), I presented a Western Australia tasting – a great opportunity to extend that holiday glow and flash my rapidly receding tan, since blanched in shock reaction to our lovely “summertime” weather!

And that tan was hard to come by.  Not because of the weather in Western Australia, no,  rather more blanching.  This time in response to the price of wine Down Under!  Aussies pay much heavier tax on wine than us and the exchange rate has plummeted to a disheartening $AUS1.6 to the £.  Frankly, we don’t know how lucky we are and April’s Wines of the Month  – a pair of Margaret River Bordeaux blends  – represent cracking value for money given their sheer class and complexity.

Vasse Felix Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2008

This wine transported me back to WA in an instant with its sweet, talcy herbal riff, lemon peel, lime and line.  Zesty, long and intense, it’s the perfect partner for prawns, yabbies or marron on the barbie with a squeeze of lime or grilled with garlic and herbs.  Yum.  A lot of wine for £9.49 at Waitrose and here’s a plea to WA?  Stick with this style.  With a bit of ambition and verve (winemaker Virginia Willcox picks early and part-barrel ferments the Sauvignon) it’s so much more interesting than a straight Sauvignon.

Clairault Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

This time last year I showed the 2004 vintage, one of three WA Cabernets awarded 5 stars by Decanter.  The follow up 2005 vintage is also receiving plenty of plaudits, including an IWC Gold and best in class in 2009.  Both wines have impressed me with their depth and concentration of flavour.  Last week the 2005 picked up nods of approval from the Bordeaux lovers as well it might with its ripe but restrained dried herb-edged blackberry, currant and cherry fruit supported and extended over a long finish by fine, chocolatey tannins.  A blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc it’s normally around £18 at Marks & Spencer but buy it online (as I just have) and it’s currently 25% off at £81.00 for 6 bottles (i.e. £13.50 a bottle) – an out and out bargain!