Our panel: Gilles Lapalus, Owner Maidenii; Cara Devine, Bar Manager Bomba Bar; Orlando Marzo, World Class Bartender of the Year in 2018; Naz Fazio, Importer Aperitivo & Co.; Tatiana An, Manager Rascal; Nicky Riemer, Head Chef Bellota Wine Bar; Simon Killeen Owner/Winemaker Simão & Co.; Jess Clayfield, Bartender Gin Palace. All wines were tasted blind.
We set our expert panel the tasks of finding the wines that compelled the most. All wines were tasted blind, and each panelist named their top six wines. Below are the top wines from the tasting.
2018 Margan Off-Sweet Semillon Vermouth, Hunter Valley $50
This made it into the top selections of four of the tasters. “I don’t know if it was the power of suggestion being on Acland St., but I couldn’t help comparing so many of the wines to baked goods and cakes,” wrote Devine. “This one was straight, boozy Christmas pudding. I got curacao and brandy vibes on the nose, and the palate was all dried fruit and nuts while managing to retain a freshness and liveliness. Candied orange and ginger, a touch (kept in check) of that menthol/eucalypt note and a chewy finish. If that all sounds a bit much, it wasn’t – it had a lovely balance and while its delicious on its own, but I’m also sure it would play well with others in cocktails.” Fazio found it, “Quite well balanced with acidity and freshness with the warming spices of amaro bitterness. I found this to be the most fascinating out of the vermouths tasted today. Think it merges styles. Is it a vermouth, amaro or aperitif? Very drinkable.” “This vermouth drops a huge flavour bomb on you right from the first whiff,” wrote Clayfield. “Fresh overripe raspberry and rich chocolate seemingly battle for the top position, only to be taken over by bold sweet liquorice… developing into warmer baking spice tones with cinnamon myrtle, star anise and pepper. The supple tannins ebb into the back palate bringing with it the flavour of tart raspberry to come full circle. Drier bitterness and even a hint of menthol allow the drinker a gentle descent into the finish. Unexpected and vibrant, this vermouth is certainly adventurous and bold in its character …it’s easy to imagine enjoying this over ice around Christmas time and lends itself to be used in many a cocktail with ease.”