Pertaringa Undercover Shiraz ’05 & Mendel Malbec ’06

Pertaringa LabelOne of the advantages of working in a wine shop has got to be customer tastings. Not only do we get to try the wines but it’s also a great opportunity to talk with our customers,  to get an understanding of what consumers are looking for in their weekly wine shop. I also love the look on people’s faces when they try a wine for the first time and discover something new. I definitely get a sense of satisfaction when they enjoy one of my recommendations. What if they like the wine and I don’t? Well,  I’ve learned to be quite diplomatic in my critiques and of course, if they don’t like it, then I let rip and steer them to wines I think they’d like.

We had two wines on tasting the other day, one I loved and the other? Meh. What surprised me the most was the wine I liked was an Australian shiraz and the wine I wasn’t crazy about was an Argentine malbec. Usually my tastes run the exact opposite so it’s always eye-opening to revisit a style or grape I thought I knew and discover something totally different.

pertaringa3pertaringaI do like Australian wines but when I actually buy wine, Australia is not my go-to place. That is until the Pertaringa ’05 Undercover Shiraz came around. Pertaringa is a small boutique vineyard in the McLaren Vale in South Australia and most of their shiraz is used as a blending grape for other wineries in the McLaren Vale, hence the name “Undercover” since it’s an unbilled player in those blends. The Undercover is 100% shiraz, they’re not pullling any punches here.

The first thing that hit me was ripe, red raspberries! Loads of  them mixed up with a heady creamy scent. An image of raspberry ice cream jumped into my head. Very fruity nose, I was loving the aromas coming up from the bottom of the glass. On the palate more of those ripe, raspberries but not jammy which I detest in New World wines. It had a nice balance between fruit and oak, hints of black pepper and mocha coffee on the finish. After about half an hour, a minty freshness seemed to evolve from the glass. Very creamy mouthfeel. This one was a delightful mouthful, could be drunk on it’s own or maybe with a mature cheese. A great buy for £11.99.

The Mendel ’06 Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina, on the other hand… well, to say I was disappointed would be an understatement. It started off promisingly negroamaro-003enough, a deep pomegranate colour with a vegetal, minty, herbal nose, not much fruit on the nose, though. Then, the swish – green tannins, unripe black fruit (blackcurrant and plums) and black licorice.  It was full bodied and not jammy but there was something nagging at the back of my mind, I know! I felt it was unbalanced with too much oak on the palate, there was an overpowering taste of vanilla and oak. It finished off with an earthy licorice note but I just didn’t care for it, not at £13.99 a bottle! That might have been another reason I didn’t really care for it, way overpriced for what you got.

So there you go, the surprising and delighful world of wine where just when you think you know exactly what a wine will taste like  and then – BAM! Expect the unexpected, no?


All wines available from Oddbins


  1. Mclaren Vale is a lovely place. Its actually a pertinent time to be talking about Mclaren Vale as the ‘Tour Down Under’ Professional cycling event is on at the moment, with the riders (including Lance Armstrong in his first race back) are riding through there today.

    Besides the Cycling however I can highly recommend a visit to Mclaren Vale – conveniently close to Adelaide, with so many great winery cellar doors showcasing distinctive wines just like the Pertaringa, not to mention beautiful beaches and coastline.

    Well worth a trip down under!

  2. Mclaren Vale must be a magical place. I love, love love almost evetrything I taste that hails from there! Xandria and I did a taste off of two Malbecs and we were stunned how differnt they can be. We loved one—hated the other. I will be on the look out for that Shiraz. Thanks for sharing!

    • Well, Malbec is as diverse as can be. I had an amazing Catena Zapata malbec at the Bibendum tastings the other day. thanks for reading!

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