SmallIslandBoy hosted a tasting of wines from the Chalk Hill winery in McLaren Vale, South Australia - not to be confused with the other Chalk Hill. SIB is very keen on having a relaxed atmosphere for his tastings - this one featured an interesting variant on the Australian Philosophers Rules ("Rule 1: No Not Drinking") - and I fear I relaxed too much because I came at the first wine, the only white of the night, from quite the wrong angle.
Chalk Hill The Procrastinator Sauvignon Blanc (02006, stelvin) is bang on target if you think of it as an Italian aperitif wine. As an Ozzy SB it sucks. It's fairly neutral, you see, rather than being green grass and wet pebbles. I should have been nibbling the tasty cheeses along with this one. As it was, cheeseless winegeek that I am, I made a face and scored it as 1-2 (crap - ordinaire). Sorry SIB, I promise to try it again, this time with a selection of antipasti.
The Italian Red varietals, on the other hand, were absolutely top notch. The Barbera in particular is well worth trying. For £12.99 you get an excellent glassful, with a complex nose, full of earthy, olive-y and green pepper notes. The palate is mellow, smooth and savoury, with remarkably good balance for such a strong wine - 15.5%. Chalk Hill Barbera (02005, stelvin): 4 (excellent).
Chalk Hill sponsor the Glossy Black Cockatoo Project, to the tune of 12 acres of drooping sheoaks every year. I wonder if they ever pause to consider the effects of the Australian-led move from corks to screwtops on the habitat of birds like the Iberian Eagle.