The first in a regular series where amateur wine connoisseur PETER GRIFFIN introduces us to some of the wines he loves – and explains what makes them great.
What makes this wine great? – Père Anselme Reserve De L’Aube Rouge 2018
I was standing in Moore Wilson’s wine section in Wellington, scanning the shelves for a cheap bottle of red to go with some lamb shoulder slowly roasting away at home.
A permanent resident at Moore Wilson’s is the Caravan Durif/Petite Syrah from Australian winemaker Quarisa, a favourite of mine and clearly many others too (Vivino rating of 3.7 with 7517 ratings). I was about to reach for a bottle of this great wine – which I’ll feature in an upcoming instalment – when I noticed the man standing next to me.
He was taking bottle after bottle of a neighbouring wine off the shelf and putting them in his basket. He noticed me watching and gave a sheepish grin.
“My wife loves the stuff,” he said. “She’ll kill me if I don’t pick her some up.”
He headed for the check-out and I picked up a bottle from the depleted stock he left behind. It was the Père Anselme Reserve De L’Aube Rouge 2018 made by Brotte, a winery based at Chateauneuf-du-Pape in the southern Rhone Valley. The label told me that it was a Syrah, Merlot and Petite Sirah blend from the Languedoc-Roussillon (Pays d’Oc) region of the South of France.
The place of popes
The region spans a famously beautiful stretch of the Mediterranean coast from near Avignon, the home of Popes for much of the 14th century, all the way west to the Pyrennes and including Montpellier and Perpignan.
It’s a region known for its affordable and quality red blends with the likes of Cabernet, Merlot, Mourvedre, Grenache, and Syrah used in various combinations.
The De L’Aube Rouge is a Vin de Pays, which means it is a step up from French table wine, but beneath the Appellation d’origine protégée (AOP) classification that tightly controls where the grapes of wine are grown. The grapes are grown on young vines.
At $13.95, the price was right. I got home to the mouthwatering smell of slow roasting lamb, paprika and cumin and uncorked the wine straight away to let it breathe.
I poured a glass. The Père Anselme has an unusual light red colour, almost like an aged pinot noir. Straight away, on the nose, you get a hit of raspberries and maraschino cherries. There’s also a hint of tobacco and pepper.
Raspberries and toffee
On the palate, it is sweet red fruit and this delicious toffee note from the French oak. It isn’t as fruity as I was expecting, particularly given the age, but is beautifully balanced with a medium finish. I wouldn’t say it has much complexity, just a satisfying mellowness to it.
Someone I shared another bottle of it with said it tasted like candyfloss. It isn’t as sweet as that to my palate, but that rich caramel taste is what makes the Père Anselme stand out as a classy wine and fantastic value at that price.
I love that feeling when you discover a wine that you instantly love, but which doesn’t cost a bomb. Sure, I could drink Te Mata Bullnose every night, but at around $50 a bottle, that’s not an option.
I bought a case of Père Anselme at $12.95 a bottle and have enjoyed it with steak, pizza and roast chicken as well. It is particularly good with spicy food. It’s also great drinking on its own. 2018 was an excellent year for grapes in the Rhone Valley and it shows in the Père Anselme, which gets a 4.1 star rating on Vivino from 552 ratings.
My rating: ****½
Bottom line: If you are looking for an easy-drinking budget Syrah with more going on than your typical French table wine, this is one to check out.