Tag Archives: Australia

Weekend Wine Picks that WOW

Rolf Binder Ma I? Have This Evening Shiraz/Mataro 2009 (Barossa Valley, Australia)

Have This Evening?
Have This Evening?

Great value alert: I love to start with a wine that tastes like it should cost much more. This Barossa Valley red is a blend of 80% Shiraz and 20% Mataro grapes. It is structured and elegant with blackberry and hints of dark chocolate. And I admit it, I am a sucker for an Australian wine with a lovely label and this one is a beaut.The Australians and Californians often have great labels and still manage to get the wine right. All too often the memorable label is a strong sign that the wine will be anything but.  And I must give honourable mention to Ontario’s Megalomaniac wines that produce award-winning labels and terrific wines. More on the art of the wine label next week.

Cecchi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2009 DOCG $19.95 LCBO, $18.80 SAQ

Value Vino
Value Vino

OK I was seduced by a wine I love at a price that seemed too good to be true. This is another great value wine. Strong cherry and tobacco notes, the wine is extra dry.  It could benefit from decanting. While this is not as smooth as some of  the wines of its Tuscan neighbours, you don’t often see Vino Nobile di Montepulciano at this price. 12.7% alcohol.

 

 

Quinta Da Lixa Pouco Comum Alvarinho 2011 $14.95

Fresh and Crisp White
Fresh and Crisp White

This white from Portugal’s Minho region is aromatic and crisp. Think citrus, think lime – a wine that is ripe with opportunity. It is fresh and balanced, but with substance. At $14.95 – if you haven’t ventured past Charodnnay and Pinot Grigio, give yourself a new grape to try. It comes from northern part of the country, a region best known for Vino Verde – refreshing whites with a green tinge.

 

 

 

The Splurge of the Week

Bold and Beautiful
Bold and Beautiful

Mollydooker The Boxer Shiraz 2010 (South Australia) $29.95

I love this wine. I love this winery’s philisophy and I would love to have its two founders, Sarah and Sparky Marquis ,over for  dinner. Mollydooker is Aussie slang  for left hander – because Sarah and Sparky  are both lefties.  Just last month, I wrote about Mollydooker’s Maitre D’. This week I was delighted to see a new and equally distinctive label on the shelf at Vintages.  The Boxer is a guaranteed crowd pleaser if you like full-bodied, fruity, rich, bold, delicious – and I could go on and on wine. While this style of fruity, highly alcoholized wine is not to everyone’s taste, it has a lot of fans. Sarah and Sparky’s story is as rich as its wines.  They went from the brink of bankruptcy to almost overnight success. Check out their fabulous web site. It is as creative as their labels. Their wines get rave reviews and they can’t produce enough of it.  It is a splurge, but I am sipping it as I write, and it is ripe with blackberries, blueberries, spice  and plenty of promise that keep delivering. Alcohol: (hold on to your hat) 16%

What attracts your eye to the bottle? The label, the grape, the region or the rating?

The Mystery Continues – Box #2 Arrives

As with any good mystery it’s the anticipation of the next clue that gets you excited. If you’ve been following our stories you’ll be familiar with this one, but if not take a minute to go back and read the story I posted on September 10 about a challenge I’ve been invited to take called The Label Project.

Wine Delivery – Bottle #1

So last week I received another delivery at the office once again from “Sender Unknown”. Already eagerly awaiting this package I opened it to once again find a wooden wine box with the front marked The Label Project.

This time there was actually a bottle of wine inside along with a letter of instructions, 2 written wine clues pertaining to the wine varietal and regional location as to where the wine comes from.

Also inside were 3 small spray bottles each containing a different scent associated with that particular varietal.

Like any good detective I first inspected the bottle for any obvious clues and even though the front label revealed nothing there was a small label on the back that stated White Wine, Product of Australia.  Well that was easy…but what next?

Written Wine clue #1 stated the region lies between two other major and much older wine regions and it’s famous for its fruit produce including cherries, pears and apples.  So I’m going for South Australia as it lies between New South Wales and Western Australia even though New South Wales is also well-known for its fruit production.

The Three Aromas

Next I started with the 3 aromas – #1 was definitely citrus, #2 was peaches or nectarines and #3 smelled a lot like hazelnuts but since these are most likely synthetic aromas it was hard to tell, they could have been trying to emulate cat pee a scent closely associated with Sauvignon Blanc and since the wine was white this could be a possibility.

 

Comparing the Colour

Sometimes its easier to figure out what something is by knowing what it’s not. Upon pouring the wine into a glass and seeing it’s colour I also poured a glass of something I definitely knew was an oaked chardonnay and compared the two.  This definitely wasn’t an oaked Chardonnay, it had a pale straw colour with a silvery rim but what is it?

Next was the nose…it wasn’t very fruit forward so I’m thinking it’s a cool climate because a hot climate wine is usually very fruit forward.

The taste was crisp and fresh with a high acidity so I’m guessing it’s a Sauvignon Blanc from somewhere near Adelaide in South Australia but what do I know I’m totally guessing.  I figured it would go really well with the Cheese Fondue we were having for dinner so that’s how I enjoyed it.

Do you think you could guess a wine from these clues?  It’s easy to create a fun challenge like this for yourself and totally makes for a great dinner party game, just take a couple of bottles and don’t let them out of the bag…pour the wine and challenge yourself and your friends and remember don’t judge a wine by it’s label.

 

 

 

 

Charming, Charismatic and Simply Delicious

“Wolfie” and I

Recently I had a chance to once again meet one of my favourite men of wine, the ever charming Wolfgang Blass.  Over the past decade I’ve met him several times when he’s visited Canada and each time I’ve walked away enchanted by this lovely man.

For those of you who’ve enjoyed Wolf Blass wines over the years and hadn’t thought much about the name, there really is a Wolfgang “Wolfie” Blass.  Now 78 years old and an ambassador to this amazing brand he released his first Grey label wine in 1967 and in 2003 Wolf Blass became Australia’s #1 wine brand (by volume & value).

Bronze, silver and gold medals, he’s won them all.  Probably too many to count both in Australia and internationally, but a known Wolf fact states his greatest achievement as winning three consecutive Jimmy Watson Trophies, the most prestigious and sought after wine award in Australia.

The Wolf Blass Visitor Centre

The Eaglehawk symbol seen on the bottles today was first released in 1987 and there’s a beautiful sculpture of the Eaglehawk at the amazing Wolf Blass visitor center in Nuriootpa, South Australia.  Should you ever get the chance to get there not only can you walk around and explore the centre but you’ll have a chance to blend it like Blass or sign up for other wine tasting experiences.

Well known for his love of women and race horses his German/Australian accent instantly captivates you and makes you smile.  Always elegant he’s recognisable by his dapper attire which always includes his iconic bow tie.  He’s said the bow tie added charisma when he was wearing overalls and rubber boots in the winery, and besides a long tie always seemed to get in the way during wine tastings.  Not only is he a great brand ambassador for the wine but he’s also a terrific ambassador for Australia and just like his bow tie, he often brings along a small stuffed “Joey” (kangaroo) carrying an Australian flag.  Today the Wolf Blass brand is owned by Treasury Wine Estates a global wine company, but Wolfgang remains a vital part of the wine industry and besides being a statesman for the brand itself he still plays an active role on many Australian wine industry bodies.

0When I met him a few years back he autographed a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon for me which sits in my cellar.  Not wanting to open it, I decided to enjoy the bottle of Yellow Label I’m holding in the photo.  And with my very first sip I remembered why I not only enjoyed his company but also his wine.