The colour of gin
Scapegrace Black Gin; New Zealand; 41.6%; $74.90 (700ml).
It would be very easy to discard this gin as another one of those gimmicky, colour-changing fads that were all the rage a few years back. Oh look, it pours black but then changes to a purpley-red/blue when you add tonic. Amazing! But that would be cruel, and not do justice to what is, simply, a sensational gin. I'd never had a black gin - Scapegrace describes it as unique, complex, and unexpected: "the taste of black". And it is exactly that, plus more. The black gin gets its dark colour from its botanicals, which include aronia berry, butterfly pea, saffron, pineapple and sweet potato, among others. I don't know whether it's the colour tricking me, but there's blackberries, plums, dark fruits that linger on the palate. Available at Dan Murphy stores and Vintage Cellars.
Money well spent
Grand Cru Bruocsella; Cantillon; Anderlecht, Belgium; 5%; $48 (750ml).
The Cantillon Effect describes how the unequal distribution of new money hurts the poorest hardest, due to the outwardly rising costs of things, such as beer, thanks to artificial inflation. This dynamic means those who issue or receive new money first will pay much less for new-release Cantillon beers than you or I because of our position much further away from the money printers. Such intrinsic inequality is a feature, not a bug, in much the same way that this beer's orange hue, sharply sour, sous-voile-esque scent and taste, and complete lack of carbonic quality, is intentional, not incidental. Too sharp for some? Perhaps, but no more than the cleverly disguised and discordant effects of unbridled money printing. Equally economically enlightening and enjoyable.
Sweet song of solera
Two Rivers Solera Verdelho; $30; 4.5 stars (out of 6).
SOLERA is a Spanish term for a system of blending various vintages of wines - most commonly used in making fortifieds. A solera consists of tiers of barrels, with the lower tiers containing older wine and the tiers above containing less old wine. The top tier contains new wine and, as wine is drawn off from the bottom casks, it is replaced by wine from the rows above. This 18.5% alcohol solera stickie is deep gold in the glass and golden syrup-scented. Rich, lush pecan pie flavour shows on the front palate, toffee, coffee cream chocolate and walnut oak meld on the middle palate and mixed peel characters come through at the finish. Buy at tworivers.com.au, the Yarrawa Road, Denman, cellar door. Drink with creme brulee and cellar seven years.
Eathers' lush fortified
Meerea Park 30th Anniversary Tawny Port; $60; 5 stars.
THIS year is the 30th anniversary of the Eather brothers' Meerea Park brand, and winemaker Rhys Eather created this fortified from a base of Homestead vineyard old vine Hunter shiraz, oak barrel aged for 12 years. It's a bit naughty to label it port, because an Australia-EU trade pact prohibits our winemakers using the names of EU regions like Portugal's Oporto (Port). That aside, this luscious 18.5% alcohol, deep amber-hued, rancio-scented drop is a fine way to mark a 30-year milestone. The front palate has plum pudding flavour, a middle palate of date, caramel, malt and nutty oak and a chocolately finish. At meereapark.com.au and, lockdown-permitting, at the Broke and McDonalds roads, Pokolbin, cellar. Try it with aged cheeses and cellar 12 years.
READ MORE FOOD & WINE: