Don’t miss out on Blind Spot – The Wine Society’s exclusive & exceptional value Australian brand
Last year I spoke at the Savour Australia conference in Adelaide on the topic of “Re-booting the UK, a mature market.” Beforehand I’d interviewed several importers and retailers about Australian wines and how they were performing in the UK. The Wine Society’s buyer Pierre Mansour told me “there is no other New World country making such varied, consistent, dynamic wines as Australia” or “which can provide wines of terroir at that [£12 and upwards] price point.” Couldn’t agree more.
In common with others, he felt that the high Australian dollar had “taken the wind out of the sails” of attempts to re-boot the UK market. However, the very good news for UK consumers is that the dollar has since softened. A situation which has no doubt contributed to the onwards upwards strength of The Wine Society’s Blind Spot range (which I first reviewed here last year).
Pulling together all the strengths which Mansour mentioned (variety, consistency, dynamism and regionality/terroir), the ever-changing Blind Spot range is made in collaboration with leading artisanal winemaker Mac Forbes. The aim is to reflect what worked best in any given year in any given region.
Forbes sniffs out great grapes countrywide, shortlists a selection of wines for Mansour’s final selection, then bottles Mansour’s final cut.
I reckon the duo have surpassed themselves this year with my picks of the range, each of which faithfully represents its region and variety/blend of varieties, offering terrific value for money. In fact, for once, my picks of the (still, dry) wines are the cheapest! Hats off to Mac Forbes, chief sourcer, or is that sorcerer?
However the ones I’ll be buying are the Tasmanian Brut and Rutherglen Muscat – more expensive (understandably), but both terrific buys.
Blind Spot Riesling 2013 (Clare Valley)
In terms of flavour profile this ticks all the Clare Valley Riesling boxes with its zesty lemon and lime fruit, juicy acidity and floral musky lift. In line with its price point, it is an expressive, upfront, approachable style with medium length – a very nice buy at £7.25 and my pick of the white (still) range.
Blind Spot Chardonnay 2013 (Yarra Valley)
As you’d expect given Yarra dweller Mac Forbe’s involvement, this is a round but restrained applely, lemony Chardonnay, unpushed by oak or acid addition, it rolls gently along. Would appeal to a Macon lover. 13% £8.50
Blind Spot Sparkling Brut (Tasmania)
From top to long tail, this is a dangerously drinkable, thoroughly delicious traditional method fizz, a blend of all three Champagne varieties – Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. A creamy, persistent mousse buoys up a biscuit-edged melange of fruit – juicy apples, tighter grapefruit even a hint of strawberry ice-cream. Long with a lip-smacking finish. Very good indeed. 12.5% £13.95
Blind Spot Grenache-Shiraz-Mataro 2012 (McLaren Vale)
My pick of the Blind Spot reds and the cheapest! A sweet fruited creamy red cherry and berry nose and palate. Just a hint of confectionary is more than balanced out by this very appealing wine’s spicy liquorice/black pepper notes and its attractively rustic Mataro tannins. Good freshness on the finish too. Lovely drinking now, either on its own for with a bite to eat. 14% £7.50
Blind Spot Shiraz-Cabernet 2012 (Grampians)
Although Shiraz is the lead partner the Cabernet informs both colour and structure. This wine is significantly deeper in hue than the other reds and more precisely structured and persistent (with a distinct blackcurranty note to the finish). That said the Grampians’ Shiraz kicks firmly into gear going through the middle palate, revealing its trademark lift of black and white pepper spice and sweet fleshy plum fruit. Longer but perhaps not as seamless as the Grenache-Shiraz-Mataro, which is why the latter is my pick of the bunch. But this is a very attractive mid-weight and restrained Aussie red for the money, by which I mean the fruit isn’t firmly in the driving seat. £7.95
Blind Spot Rutherglen Muscat (Rutherglen, Victoria)
I spent a week in Rutherglen last September, judging at the wine show and getting better acquainted with, in particular, the region’s fortified wines. The Muscats and Topaques are fabulous. And I can report that Blind Spot is a beaut with a flamboyant nose of caramel, dates, orange blossom and milk chocolate orange, which notes follow through on a silky palate. Lovely balance, length and depth. A long datey finish is layered with mocha, maple syrup and macaroon notes. Divine! Price £7.95 (half bottle).