November Wines of the Month: Lino Ramble ‘Blind Man’s Bluff’ Bastardo 2019 & S C Pannell Tempranillo Touriga 2018
Vinously speaking (how else?!?), I had my Large Hadron Collider experience this last fortnight – the perfect intersection of interests, as Australia, specifically, McLaren Vale, collided with Portugal. No more so than in My Wines of the Month – a beautiful Bastardo, brilliantly executed by Lino Ramble’s Andy Coppard in a medium-bodied bright, spicy style (a la Douro) and a Tempranillo a.k.a. Tinta Roriz blend with Touriga Nacional from Australia’s master of the genre, S C Pannell (Steve Pannell has won Best of Show at McLaren Vale Wine Show with a Touriga blend three times). The 2018 bagged Best Red Blend and the [my] International Judge’s Trophy at this year’s show.
Below you’ll find my notes on the wines and click here for my review of the wine show, the wine show results and reflections on my fortnight in McLaren Vale’s flourishing wine, food and tourism scene.
Lino Ramble ‘Blind Man’s Bluff’ Bastardo 2019 (McLaren Vale, South Australia)
Fresh back from a visit to Portugal, Andy Coppard was chock-full of enthusiasm for the country. No way was he going to call this Trousseau, even if the Jura is pretty trendy down under. So is Portugal! I tipped him off about visiting Pedro Marques at Vale da Capucha and I’m looking forward to checking out Lino Ramble’s first Arinto. As for this Bastardo, Coppard kindly gave me a bottle to take home, which I’m looking forward to sharing with some Douro producers. If I can keep my hands off it. It nails the style which Douro producers Conceito’s Rita Marques and Niepoort are chasing. I couldn’t be more impressed. When I corresponded with Coppard about Lino Ramble’s excellent Montepulciano 2017 (which I showed at the Australia Trade Tastings earlier this year), his enthusiasm for Bastardo spilled over. The 2019 is the fourth vintage. Here’s what he told me: “We freaking love Bastardo! It is an early ripener. The first pick each vintage in fact. Small, tight conical bunches similar to Pinot Noir. Structural, texture, savoury flavours. Ticks all our boxes. Again it was part of a trial we did with a grower. Two rows planted. Maximum harvested in any vintage so far has been a fraction shy of 1 ton. Liked it so much, we’ve convinced the grower to rip out some god-forsaken Merlot and plant more. We will pick the first crop from that new planting this vintage.” Fast-forward 10 months and here is my tasting note on the 2019 vintage – pale ruby and medium-bodied, with a lick of chinato/dried herbs and catering chocolate to its vivid red fruits. Whole bunch fermentation and three months on skins, with minimal oak has imparted delicate, but intense, spice and underbrush notes to the palate. Lovely persistence. A wine which delivers surprising intensity and detail given its lightness of being. The grapes come from Chalk Hill Viticulture’s California Road Vineyard in Whites Valley. 13.8%
S C Pannell Tempranillo Touriga 2018 (McLaren Vale, South Australia)
I must have tasted this wine blind at least four times during the show, each time pulling it forward as a winner. I subsequently tasted it with Steve Pannell in a vertical (2014-2018). It must be the most scrutinised wine of my visit and, happily, I’m very pleased with my choice for the International Judge’s Trophy at this year’s show. When we met, Pannell told me he is not wedded to either variety taking the lead – “I just want to make the best wine.” Here’s my first blind tasting note from the ‘Other red varietals or blends class, any vintage’ class at the show, with my post script observations in square brackets. “Nice animation behind the plum fruit, with a lick of herbs and bitter chocolate (Malbec? [blind alley there!]. Nice ruffle of tannin, with red cherry and berry, succulent black cherry. Some hints of bergamot, so OK Touriga N [now you’re talking]? Has that generosity, the plum, fleshy, the tannin structure, bergamot, earl grey….Long, persistent, fine ruffle of tannin. GB [my abbreviation for going back at the end of the flight, this class with 16 wines] Yes classy, holding up really well, persistence and detail.” And here’s my note from the randomised call back of potential gold medal winners from that flight – “bouncier, earl grey, tea tannins, red and black fruits, juicy blackberry and cherry, sweet-fruited finish, but juicy and balanced and v persistent with a lick of early grey tea leaf and bergamot. Fine tannins, like it, orange characters but a freshness and presence….” All excellent qualities – both varietally and in absolute terms – which held up when I subsequently tasted it with Pannell. Tasting S.C. Pannell 2017 Dead End Tempranillo at the show and the 2018 vintage at the cellar door afterwards, I reckon the Tempranillo/Tinta Roriz brings the tannin structure to the blend – that ruffle of soft but tactile tannins, with a silverside/powdery crushed stone/graphite quality. For Pannell, with more tannins, the 2018 is one of the better vintages. Suffice to say, I commend it!