Tuesday, 11 June 2013

My Visit to Charles Melton Wines: Why I Heart Them

After a visit in March, Charles Melton Wines is now one of my favourite places to visit in the Barossa Valley, South Australia. The winery, near the small town of Tanunda, was established 1984 (we're the same age!) and boasts a very informal, cellar door which showcases their delectable wines.

 In the mid 80's winemaker Charlie Melton and a few other Barossa folk turned their winemaking efforts to Shiraz and Grenache - varieties which were unfashionable at the time - and produced a small range of dry reds. I don't know about you, but I think they were onto something!

Unfortunately I didn't get to stay for the dinner and jazz event the staff were setting up for when I visited (would have been amazing!), but nonetheless the cellar door, and the wines, at Charles Melton remain firm in my memory. The range still remains small, but for me this makes the wines so much more memorable. With just eight wines to taste at the cellar door, it was easy to pick a couple to take home - I was still sober enough to remember them all!

 My Top 3? Oh go on, I'll rave about them if I have to! I'll warn you, they're pricey but completely worth it.

Charles Melton Voices of Angels Shiraz 2010, £188.23 per case of six, equivalent to £31.37 per bottle from The Drink Shop

Rich and deep in colour, a perfect example of a cool climate Shiraz (this one's from the Adelaide Hills) with a softly perfumed nose and a gentler structure. Still fresh, and with out the big bold brashness of a typical Aussie Shiraz but still with a fruity jammy sweetness and a touch of stalkiness to balance the palate. Effortlessly elegant and ever so slightly ethereal (Angels, ethereal...see what I've done there?)

Charles Melton Nine Popes 2009, £193.80 per case of six, equivalent to £32.30 per bottle from Tesco Wine by the Case
Given a little Aussie twist by Charlie Melton, this Shiraz/Grenache/Mataro blend has become a bit of an icon world wide. Nine Popes is based on the name (and blends) of the region, Chateauneuf du Pape, which when translated reads ‘New Castle of the Popes’. But, stick with it! In many old world languages, ‘nuef’ can mean both ‘nine’ and ‘new’, hence Nine Popes - very clever, a bit like the liquid inside. Complex and spicy with a sweet cedary nose and a hint of liquorice, this oaked beauty screams 'Aussie, Aussie, Aussie', and I love it!

Charles Melton Grains of Pardise 2009, £39.70 per bottle from Hedonism Wines

Warm and generous like you would expect from a Barossa Shiraz, this is dark and rich with plum, prune and sweet spice aromas - think Christmas fruitcake! Mouthfilling, with grippy tannins, this is a serious wine which goes on and on - both in the glass and in the bottle; this one's a keeper for the long term.

On a side note, on searching for this last one I did learn that Grains of Paradise actually exist; they come from West Africa, and were called so by Medieval spice traders looking for a way to inflate the price. It was claimed that these peppery seeds grew only in Eden, and had to be collected as they floated down the rivers out of paradise. Actually factual!

@CharlesMelton wines, I heart you - I can't wait to come back. In the meantime, I guarantee I'll be sipping one of your smooth reds again soon.

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