Took a 2007 Chateau St. Jean VV to a dinner party last night. The host was serving roast pork with a rhubarb gravy, and it struck me as a good accompaniament as well as a wine that would be at the halfway point between my Europhile palate and the host's preference for sweeter "one big flavor" (his term for it) new world wines. Bingo! Not quite two years ago, this wine fooled a pretty good palate into thinking I was pouring him a California pinot noir--sweet, modern, friendly, spicy and all red fruit. Now it's more intense and all about rich, ripe black fruit like blackcurrant, black raspberry and black nicoise olives vs. anything red--still polished-modern and with Californicated levels of ripeness, but tolerably so. IOW, not what I love best, but very good at being what it is and very popular at the table.
By way of interesting contrast, later the host opened a 2009 Torbreck 'The Steading'. Oz wines are his true 'sweet spot'. I feared goop, but I have to say this Torbreck was a winner. Popped and poured. Spicey, mostly black fruit, with licorice and just a touch of asphalt. Good depth with ample acidity and silky tannins and, most importantly, none of the jam or saturated flavors I so often find in Barossa wines. In fact, none of the classic Aussie markers at all. Made me wonder if 09 was a cooler vintage down under or if I just have had the wrong Torbrecks in the past. Had I a choice of a second glass of either of these two wines, no contest--I'd go with the Torbreck.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov