‘You’ve been shortlisted’, it read, and actually I knew that I had been, I’d been keeping a date free in my diary for months. This was my invitation to The Roof Gardens in Kensington for a formal(ish) four course dinner to celebrate the UK launch of the McGuigan range of award winning wines, The Shortlist.
So having arrived at the ground floor foyer of The Roof Gardens, I was directed to the sixth floor of the building. Here guests were being served a delicately pink sparkling wine and being enticed with canapés as we enjoyed the mild spring weather in a rather formal enclosed garden. Dinner was planned for 8.00pm and pretty much on the dot we were ushered into one of the sixth floor reception rooms with huge greenhouse-like windows overlooking a less formal expanse of gardens outside.
After a short speech by Neil McGuigan officially launching The Shortlist, I, together with members of the wine trade, the media and bloggers got down to the purpose of the evening, to taste the wines in these impressive surroundings with some great food.
This five-strong regionally focused range of wines is made up of Adelaide Hills Chardonnay, an aged Eden Valley Riesling, both of which accompanied starters of prawn, seared scallop and salmon tartare. The Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, Barossa Shiraz and a Grenache Shiraz Mouvedre blend, also from the Barossa, were set to accompany the mains of fillet of beef.
The whites are both incredibly distinctive wines. The Riesling has a petrol-like nose to it and this comes through to some extent in its flavour. It’s a clean very dry white with some citrus and sharp fruit, but with a drying effect in the mouth, almost like a lightly tannic red. To my mind this is absolutely a wine to drink with food and one that would support richer fish and white meat dishes pretty well, but would also match lighter foods like salads. The Chardonnay on the other hand had a good creamy texture to it with soft fresh yellow fruits and some citrus acidity, both in its bouquet and on the palate, with some nice length. Like the Riesling it would work well some richer fish and white meat dishes.
The reds were also full of character. The Grenache Shiraz Mouvedra (GSM) blend had big forest fruits on the nose together with some edgy blackcurrant, and this came through as you wash it around your mouth particularly acidic blackcurrant. It’s a fresh, tangy, medium bodied red that has low tannins, with good length. It would pair very well with less strong meats, in particular with lamb. The Shiraz has a sharp edgy aroma with dark berry fruits there. Blackberry comes through well on the palate in this medium bodied red. Like the GSM it’s a medium bodied red, though it’s a richer wine and is more tannic, making it a good match for heavier red meats like beef and venison. Finally the Cabernet Sauvignon, which had a sharp bouquet of forest fruits and blackcurrant leaf as you raise it to your nose. Berry fruits come through well as you taste it, as does a good acidity that’s promised in its aroma. This, like its sister reds, is a medium bodied wine with great fresh dark fruit flavours and low tannins, which like the GSM would work with lighter meats like lamb, but it would also work with a good steak.
The Shortlist range will be available from late May, exclusively at Majestic www.majestic.co.uk with a RRP of £14.99. Majestic has taken the entire UK allocation of the Shortlist range in what I am told is one of the largest orders of premium Australian wine ever placed by them. You can quite see why they wanted to snap up the whole shipment that McGuigan had earmarked for these shores, they’re very good wines that promise to get even better as they mature in the bottle.