Two buck Chuck, or worth every buck?
School holidays. Gotta love the break from routine and the chance to travel, relax or just bond with your kids. But we all know that the gap between school terms isn’t all beer and skittles. After all, the traffic can be horrendous, the house looks like a warzone, and all too often “those” relatives want to come and stay.
In my world, “those” relatives are coming to the Sunshine Coast to visit and I find myself putting away the wines I’ve been trying to age, locking the cellar and stocking the fridge with wines that quench the thirst of my apparently parched immediate family members to save them from dehydration. But as we all know, there’s not much point serving your finest Belgian chocolate chip bikkies to the Cookie Monster. So you can imagine my consternation when I was informed that I was to be in charge of sourcing the wines for the extended family group for a week long camping trip in our neck of the woods!
With a search for good value in mind, I decided to pay a visit to my “local” and bought a range of cheap and cheery mainstream wines from around Australasia. My plan, was to look for wines that sold at around the $10 price point (or less) and taste them all with a view to deciding which ones were “two buck chuck”, and which were “worth every buck”.
In fairness, I should start by making the observation that beauty is in the eye of the beholder; one person’s meat is another’s poison, so I apologise if my palate’s preferences don’t align with those of some of the readership. But here we go with the results of my experiment:
- Wolf Blass Red Label Cabernet Merlot ($8) – bright, loads of juicy red fruits and enough oak to give it credibility. Perhaps a 7/10?
- Yellow Tail Merlot ($8) – mulberries and sweet stewed plums across the palate. It’s cheap, but also nasty. How do they get away with selling so much of that stuff abroad? I’d say 4/10. And that’s being kind.
- Rosemount Diamond Label Chardonnay 2018 ($9). Lovely melon and peach characters and a voluptuous mouth feel. Some toasty oak adds to the experience. 8/10.
- Fifth Leg Semillon Sauvignon Blanc ($10). Lively, crisp and refreshing, there’s enough fruit to seduce the taste buds and ample zing to give it credibility. Great value – 8/10.
- McGuigan Black Label Red Blend ($7). There’s a generosity of fruit that is amplified by sickly sweet waves of overripe cherry and blackberry. Not so great. They charge for this stuff? 2/10.
- Taylors One Small Step Chardonnay ($10). Love the combination of peach, pineapple and nectarine. Great balance, nice mouthfeel and a finish beyond its price point. 9/10. Winner!
I shouldn’t have been surprised that the Taylors came out on top in my recent trials of the value end wines; after all, their Clare Valley operation always seems to deliver quality above the price point. I’m a big fan of their Estate label Shiraz ($20) and their St Andrews Cabernet ($55). If only I was entertaining friends who appreciate the nuances and niceties of the more expensive drops.
It seems that my brother, sister and their tribe will be enjoying Clare Valley fruit these holidays. I guess they’ll form their own views as to whether it’s two buck chuck, or worth every buck.