TheWineRambler "A German wine label is one of the things life's too short for" - Kingsley Amis



The Hedonist, Shiraz, 2006

Posted by Torsten 24 Sep 2009

Do you know the German word 'marmeladig'? I have looked into several dictionaries, but no translation could be found. However, you will need to understand it to understand this wine, even though this Shiraz (or Syrah - two names, but same grape) is Australian and not German at all. It also is a wine that the Wine Rambler reviews as part of our venture into UK supermarket wines, even though a £9.99 wine from Waitrose is not quite what you would expect under this label.

So what is it with 'marmeladig'? 'Marmelade' is the German word for jam, and when German wine snobs use that word they usually refer to a wine that has a very concentrated, fruity aroma, the kind of wine that Robert Parker and others have made so commercially successful. This can be a good thing, but, depending on the wine and on your taste, it can also mean that you find it stickily sweet or that it has an industrialised, mass-produced touch.

A 14% Australian red is not what the Wine Rambler usually reviews. So why did I buy this wine? First of all I have had it with some of the really boring, cheap supermarket wines I have tasted recently - ten quid from Waitrose gave me hope to taste something decent. Also, I have not had a Syrah/Shiraz in quite a while and I fancied some red. Most importantly, I was in an indulgent mood and so 'The Hedonist' seemed like the perfect wine. That the Hedonist is also made biodynamically was not unpleasant, although with wine I usually go for character and quality and am not too fussed if it is almost organic or super-organic. The Hedonist also has a nice pig on the label. But I digress.

First of all you notice the colour, a really shiny, ruby red. The bouquet is dominated by fruit and oak, dark berries (blackcurrant) and smooth wood. You also get very smooth leather and a mix of coffee or cocoa powder, almost tiramisu-like. Very fruity, and marmeladig. In the mouth, the Hedonist is quite smooth too, full-bodied but not super-heavy, despite the alcohol. Again, lots of dark berries and oak with a bit of vanilla. The winemaker informs us: 'I made it black and silky in new American oak and it's got that long velvety finish true Shiraz lovers lust after.' Quite right with regards to the silkiness and the finish.

However, this wine did not do very much for me. True, it goes down very easily - but would you drink smooth, vanilla-flavoured blackcurrant jam? To be fair, I can see that quite a few people out there would and you will love this wine (you know who your are). For me I have to say this is totally not my style of wine and it also feels too international. I think I would really enjoy a glass or two with veal in a plum sauce or a similar dish, but other than for that occasion I cannot see myself drinking it again. It is very drinkable though and if this is your style go for it. I will keep the bottle for a friend who is coming round for dinner tomorrow; she really likes that stuff.