All time favourite red wine...
For those who know me, it’s common knowledge that I love red wine - Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, alternatives like, Montepulciano, Tannat, Saperavi, Nebbiolo to name a few.
Do you have an all time favourite. Ok, I know that’s difficult for most red wine affectionados but I fell in love with this wine variety early 2000s. So what is it you ask???
Durif... those who know me will be well aware of this amazing wine.
This red wine grape from the Rhone Valley wasn’t highly regarded in its native France. Durif is actually a cross between the noble grape Syrah and the less well-known Peloursin. It was created at the University of Montpellier in the 1880s by a gentleman named Dr. Durif - a nurseryman who was looking to develop a grape variety resistant to downy mildew, one of many scourges of the vine.
It was introduced into Australia by pioneering Victorian viticulturalist Francois de Castella in 1908.
Although only a few token plantings remain in France today, Durif is both successful and popular in Australia where it makes characterful, pitch-black wines. Even long-term Shiraz fans are recognising the appeal of the incredibly dark, powerful wines from Durif. In fact, it's often blended with Shiraz.
So what is it that I love about Durif...
Durif is inky purple-black in colour. There are captivating aromas of blackberry jam, dark plum, sweet spice, fruit cake and chocolate. The palate is rich and full-bodied. Black fruits dominate. Toasty oak is evident adding complexity. Tannins are solid adding a muscular backbone and dry finish to this generous wine.
Durif can be enjoyed now, but best over the next decade.
In the early 2000’s there was not a huge amount of Durif out there.
One of the first Durif’s I encountered and still one of my all time favourites would be the Warrabilla Durif (both the Reserve Durif & even more so, is the Parola’s Limited Release Durif) heralding from the Rutherglen region. Warrabilla’s Durif’s are the stuff of legends, often around 15.5% - 16% or more alc/volume.
By 2009, there were some promising South Australian Durif’s, namely Kalleske’s Buckboard Durif, from the Barossa - still a favourite today, and Rusticana Wines from Langhorne Creek.
Today there are a number of Durif’s that hold a special place in my heart and my cellar...
- Warrabilla Wines (www.warrabillawines.com.au) - Rutherglen region - the Parola's Limited Release Durif is only made in exceptional vintages. It has an impenetrable colour, extraordinary depth of fruit flavour and walls of tannin. This is a massive, massive wine.
- Kalleske Wines (www.kalleske.com) - Barossa region - the Buckboard still a huge favourite and now they have another stunner named CCCLXV Durif - a big, powerful, dark-inky coloured wine which is rich, intense with dark fruit aromas with traces of herbs and gorgeous flavours of Christmas pudding and dark chocolate.
- Tenafeate Creek (www.tcw.com.au) - One Tree Hills region - this Durif is Full bodied in style. Flavours of chocolate, plum jam, mulberry with mouth-coating tannins.
- The Wicked Virgin & Calico Town Wines (www.wickedvirginrutherglen.com.au) - Rutherglen region - the Prospektor, is a rich full bodied blend of Durif, Saperavi and Shiraz.
- Five O’Clock Somewhere (www.fiveoclocksomewhere.com.au) - “Durif is the New Black”, the current version is McLaren Vale variety. Previously they also had a Durif Blend comprising of Durif, Shiraz, Grenache and Sauvignon Blanc - I’m hoping this re-appears...
- Ballycroft Vineyards and Cellars (www.ballycroft.com) - Barossa region - Small Berry Durif - a deep dark exuberant red wine with hints of dark blueberry jam and dark chocolate.
- And a recent “find” comes from Atze’s Corner Wines (www.atzes.com) - Barossa region - “The Giant” Durif, another stunner from the Barossa. It’s dark and deliciously wonderful and deep