My last few weeks’ wine courses have been devoted to explaining the importance of site in French wines. Wolf Blass Black Label is a refreshing change from regionality, as the aim of this style is lush fruit. The wines are selected from the best barrels of each vintage, and are primarily Cabernet & Shiraz.
The enormous success of this style has held true for almost 40 consecutive vintages, at its height garnering a trio of coveted Jimmy Watson Trophies in the 70s and 80s. It is now under the watchful eye of Chris Hatcher and his team.
The source is largely irrelevant, but tends to be from either Langhorne Creek or Barossa. This consistently fruity style has been a trophy winner for the past 40 years, but there is a trend towards achieving more elegance in tandem with the lush fruity opulence.
Young winemakers now allocate 50% of their time in the vineyards, managing vine vigour to optimise ripeness and yields. Very small batch open vat fermenters, with gravity-fed pressing result in supple fruit and tannins. The final half percent of alcohol is fermented in oak, to knit the oak into the fruit. Wolf Blass are moving towards exclusive preference for French oak, over American oak. All these practices demonstrate a healthy admiration for French winemaking practices.
Wolf Blass Platinum Label is about power. It shows not only regionality and varietal character, but in latter vintages is also an expression of vineyard.
Wolf Blass Grey Label is about to be released for the first time in Ireland in 2012. It is characterised by an opulent and elegant mouthfeel, with very moderate tannins.
Wolf Blass Black Label is priced at just over €60 per bottle, and is widely available in specialist wine shops, O’Brien’s, Molloys and supermarkets.
As the original German creator, Wolf Blass once said, it is a wine to “make strong women weak and weak men strong.”