What I’m Drinking This Week: Plantagenet Reds

Most of our sense of taste is actually in our nose. You’ve probably heard that before, but if you want proof, check out the red wines of the Omrah line produced by Plantagenet Wines in Western Australia. These display beguiling aromas of cologne (Old Spice!), orange peel and tropical fruit aromas, with a remarkable consistency across grape varieties.

Most enticing for me was the Omrah Pinot Noir 2006 ($18), from a cool vintage that made the wine lighter than it could have been, while emphasizing its aromas. This is neither an earthy Burgundy nor a California fruit bomb, yet it is unmistakably pinot – a pinot potpourri, of sorts.           

The Omrah Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 and Shiraz 2004 (both $18) are from a stronger vintage, and while they display the finesse and brawn of their varieties, they also offer the same aromatic profile of the Pinot Noir. These are delicious wines that will have you sticking your nose further and further into your glass as you try to identify each flavor. Great values, too.          

Omrah is the middle of three tiers produced by Plantagenet; I like it better than the slightly more expensive Plantagenet Estate wines, which tend toward overripe, compote flavors in the reds. (Fans of Aussie Riesling should seek out the $20 Plantagenet 2006 Great Southern.) The Hazard Hill line retails for $14, and is quite fine, especially a crisp, refreshing white made from Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.           

Plantagenet Wines are imported by Robert Whale Selections, Inc., of Washington, DC, and distributed in DC and Virginia by the Henry Wine Group.

They're available at Paul's of Chevy Chase (5205 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-537-1900), of Gaithersburg (Washingtonian Center, 20A Grand Corner Ave., Gaithersburg; 301-987-5933), Daily Planet (2000 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria;703-549-3444), and Unwined Gourmet Wine & Cigars (3690-J King St., Alexandria; 703-820-8600).