Results from Wine Assignment #5: Bargain hunting, <$15 bottles

This assignment focused on finding gems among the budget priced bottles at your local store. Sixteen wines were submitted for this assignment with a huge range or varietals, from a Marsanne to trusty old Cabernet Sauvignon. You can find the entire list of submitted wines on the assignment page.

Top 3 wines from this assignment

  1. Tahbilk Marsanne (2014)
  2. Single Step Cabernet Sauvignon (2012)
  3. A tie between Brown Brothers Orange Muscat & Flora (2013) & Metala White Label Shiraz Cabernet (2010)

See below is our extended forum discussion of the picks from this assignment.

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Sammy Lee avatar
Sammy Lee
A wine enthusiast that wants to bring like folks together.

Notable Replies

  1. I noticed @petertan managed to find a Pinot Noir <$15! I was actually looking to see if it’s possible to get a decent tasting, bargain Pinot Noir since they, on average, cost more than more common red varietals, say Shiraz and Cabernet. The tasting notes from Tyrrell’s indicates it’s a multi-regional blend and matured for 12 months in French oak. Comments on whether it lived up to your expectations @petertan?

  2. @SammyLee The Pinot was fine and especially for it’s bargain basement price you couldn’t really complain. But I feel like searching for a Pinot around this price point is a bit of wasted effort as it would not be something that I would return to.
    There were definitely other more interesting (and tastier) varietals on offer. One advantage of this assignment was that (because of the price) I was willing to experiment more with unknown varieties (eg. Marsanne, Montepulciano, Borsao) and also stack reviews against each other. Also you definitely got more (way more) bang for buck from your standard Cabs or Shiraz for the same price

  3. I was expecting a higher proportion of Shirazs and Cabs submitted for this assignment but I think we were both trying to explore varietals outside the common Australian ones. That said, I had fun doing the Metala Shiraz Cabernet semi-verticle and the summary from that is even budget wines have a bit of aging potential, especially in good vintages.

    The Tahbilk Marsanne was a nice find. I’ve never had a bottle from Single Step before so that’s on my radar now. What stood out the most when you had this one @petertan?

  4. Yea I also think that we already have significant experience with bargain Shiraz/Cabs and did not want to repeat the same old same old (although the Wyndham 555 was a notable exception as it was picked solely on nostalgia). The Single Step stood out most as it was particularly tasty and had complex notes and I think could easily be around the $28-$30 category. After having so many around this price point flavours tended to be simple and the Single Step stood out because of its layers.

    The Metala verticle was interesting. Do you feel that the age made as much of a difference in it versus a wine ‘designed’ for aging?

  5. Ageing the Metala tasted like it smooth out some of the harsh characteristics (sharp acidity & rough tannins). With wines “designed” for ageing you would get interesting secondary and tertiary flavours coming through which I think isn’t as apparent in this case. The 2010 is still a young-ish wine but I don’t think it’ll get more interesting with time in the cellar.

    A wine that almost made the top 3 was the Paul Mas Viognier, I like aromatic wines and this one definitely had strong aromatics. The palate didn’t match the aromatics unfortunately, I wonder how you (@petertan) would have scored it since you tend to enjoy wines that hit the palate stronger. The combination of aromatics and palate profile that fits my liking is one of the reasons why I love good Shiraz Viognier blends.

  6. Yes at least with this time around it dispels the myth that old wine is a good wine.
    I’m surprised that you have Metala hanging around so long to be honest hahaha.
    It definitely seemed like the whites had a good go at it with Marsanne coming out on top. I am starting to appreciate aroma a bit more as it is much easier to identify flavours on the nose rather than the palate with wine tasting. But if I was just to sit back and relax without my ‘thinking cap’ on I wouldn’t even be bothered to smell the wine (in all honesty). I would have thought the Shiraz Viognier blends for this would have come out stronger. They didn’t seem particularly impressive?

  7. The Metala has been hanging around for so long because I’ve been buying faster than I’ve been drinking! :stuck_out_tongue: I only had one Shiraz Viognier (Yalumba The Y Series) that fit within the price limit of this assignment. It didn’t help that I had a Ravensworth SV (priced above $15 so wasn’t eligible for a submission) at the same time as the Yalumba, the Ravensworth is definitely better head-to-head. But I also think the Lark Hill SV we had a week or two earlier was better than the Ravensworth for a similar price range. I think I need to buy some of that Lark Hill for home.

    One wine that I did have in mind but didn’t end up submitting as a wine assignment is the Mt Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon (2007). Great value and <$15 I would say it ranks pretty high up there for a cheaply priced wine.

  8. Hmmm yea that Lark Hill SV was great. I also managed another $15 find on Saturday(but too late for assignment submission)
    Montrose Shiraz 2012
    which reminded me remarkably of a SV. Not too complex but was actually more SV than some SV’s I’ve had hahaha.

    I think a really great thing about this assignment is that it took a lot of seriousness out of the whole practice. Not having to analyse the crap out of things was great too for a change

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