Taste with Langton’s by Ned Goodwin MW
Monday, December 13, 2021 in News
Master of Wine, Ned Goodwin Look back on the Taste with Langton's series that has covered Australian classics, Bordeaux and Burgundy. He reflects on how the series came into being, how it has evolved, and his favourites so far. Catch up on previous episodes of Taste with Langton’s now.
Langton's live experience has evolved from Langton’s TV during the earlier days of the pandemic to, more recently, Taste with Langton’s. I hosted the former and co-host the latter with our Auctions Manager Michael Anderson and we invite guests to join us for each tasting. While this shift may sound like a marketing change of gears, fresh semantics and the same mags shovelled into shinier rims, the fact is that the dynamic is completely different. The advent of the 60mL tasting pack is the reason! .
Ned Goodwin, Master of Wine
These tasting packs, as many of you are aware, contain about half a regular glass of each of the wines featured in a Taste with Langton’s episode. The wines are decanted into these miniature bottles which are then preserved with argon, an inert gas that displaces oxygen while protecting the wine from the oxidase enzymes that spoil it.
This system facilitates a shelf-life of around six weeks, making for a vivid glimpse of the quality of wines on hand, rather than an exact replication. The quality of a 750mL bottle (or better, a magnum) is always going to be better by virtue of its more robust foundations of preservation, from the right amount of sulphur dioxide, the liquid-to-surface area ratio and the type of seal chosen by the winery. Moreover, once a wine is decanted, even if argon is used, it has already been exposed to oxygen which minimises its shelf-life.
‘ ...wine can only be brought to life when we are tasting together.’
These diminutive bottles meant that suddenly, rather than being a talking head at the other end of the camera (as I was during Langton’s TV), my fellow panellists and I effectively became a conduit for an interactive tasting experience that the tasting packs have facilitated. This makes Taste with Langton’s as informative as it is entertaining and most importantly, dynamic and inclusive. After all, no matter how smitten by wine we all may be, wine can only be brought to life when we are tasting together.
Wine has to be animated to be enjoyable as a visual medium. Irrespective of the intrinsic qualities of a wine discussed, the knowledge of the host and the glamour of far-away wine regions introduced, the tangible liquid must be in front of participants in the experience so that a wine’s qualities, pedigree and beauty, no matter how abstract, can be articulated properly.
With this in mind, my favourite episodes to date were the Introduction to Bordeaux episode and the one on Wynns, that Australian icon that manages a palpable ascension of quality year in and out, despite large company ownership.
I particularly appreciate the tannin management of the Wynns wines and enjoyed witnessing this evolution when tasting. I applaud makers Sue Hodder and Sarah Pigeon for their assiduous attention to detail and relish the return to a style that made Wynns so renowned in the first place: digestible, mid-weighted, savoury wines of lithe, long-limbed tannins. Tannins that offer versatility at the table. As I am sure they would agree, as we have evolved as a culinary culture, Wynns have evolved alongside despite, perhaps, a blip on the radar during the late 1990s and early 2000s when the oak was a bit too aspirational and the wines, on the heavier side. I thought the Michael Shiraz 2019 was stunning. While an outlier perhaps in the world of terra rossa and its cabernet-centric wines, the wine oozed class: blueberry, clove, anise and a peppery plume of saline freshness towing it long.
The introductory Bordeaux episode, meanwhile, was appealing because it tapped into the deep reservoir of value that the region offers. Of course, value is contextual. Exponential. Personal. Yet while Burgundy may be responsible for the world's most expensive and riveting wines, Bordeaux is unequivocally the largest luxury wine region in the world. From the top crus to smaller satellite regions, there is splendour aplenty. If one were to compare the pricing of some of these to top domestic offerings, the value is obvious.
Why not take the time to look back over some of our episodes. Open a bottle, it doesn't matter if it doesn't feature in the show and share in the joy of the journey. The pantheon of great, good and, crucially, interesting wines is ever-changing and, so, unending. We may empty our glasses but no one ever 'finishes' wine. There's a supreme pleasure to be found in this education and there's always more to learn.