La Motte Shiraz 2002 $19.95

This intense, peppery and savoury wine demands roast beef.. Aniseed, blackcurrant and violet on the nose. The palate shows additional black olive and bay leaf flavours. More savoury than fruity, this deep ruby coloured wine has a medium to full-bodied palate, with a mouth-filling peppery finish.. entices with redcurrant, roast beef and whiff [of] sweet vanilla; subtly and sensuously caressing fruit, slight savouriness, lingering finish.


the experience

Aniseed and mouth-filling rang a bell somewhere but it took a while before I realised: gob-stoppers! Some care was going to be needed if this wine wasn't to become rather sickly. I was also drawn to it because of a correspondence with my uncle on an unlikely conspiracy theory in which Rumsfeld (of the Bush administration) made a fortune from Roche (pharmaceuticals giant) because of a near monopoly in aniseed which is the only source of shikimic acid, used by Roche to make Tamiflu, proposed as a possible measure against bird flu. It turned out that it's not aniseed but Chinese star anise that is the critical ingredient and so I also opted for this spice.

The tasting notes also steered me away from too much fruity flavour for this wine. Although blackcurrant and redcurrant were there I would have to keep the quantity low and defaulted to the reliable addition of half and half port and ribena (or generic blackcurrant concentrate. NB you need to use a 'proper' old fashioned version not one loaded with artificial sweetners).

A first experiment with black olives was promising but gave the perennial problem of getting rid of the oil. Also the suggesting in the tasting notes to try bay leaf was good one. In the end a maceration of fresh kafir lime leaves, bay leaves, black olives, caraway, lemon grass and star anise was used but the total amount reduced quite drastically after a couple of iterations when the final product tasted rather "Thai".