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2 entries from December 2012

The Christmas of Drinking Half-Decent Wine for a Change. Part Two.

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The social media was unanimous.  They recommended we drink the Mersault on Heiligabend.  So we did.  Twitter and Facebook had excellent taste.

Now the 1st Weinachtstag dilemma.  Which shiraz to have with the duck?  The choice is a bit more complex. One from the Barossa Valley, the capital of Shiraz.  And two from McLaren Vale, the grape's spiritual home. 

Let's start with the McLaren Vale shiraz.  D'Arenberg wine is dear to my heart, from the days when my pals and I would skive off lectures at the nearby University of Adelaide to go wine drinking tasting. 

There's an art to university drinking.  The undergrad imbiber must calculate, usually on the run, how to squeeze maximum merriment from minimum dough. 

In most parts of the world the math is easy—beer wins.  Especially so 'round these parts; beer is the Poland Spring of Bavaria.  Those poor students in England must resort to cider when skint, and I pity them. 

In the South Australia of my youth—home to about 60% of Australia's viticulture—the most cost-efficient booze was wine.  When wineries finished their run of bottling proper wine, they would often find some left over.  They decanted the leftovers into three-litre bottles, known as flagons or 'goons for short, and sold it cheap to the likes of us.  Depending on the luck of the draw, one's palate could become quite spoiled. 

Our 'goons of choice came form D'Arenberg, and to boot, their tasting room showed great tolerance of freeloaders.  D'Arrys curls up in a special corner of my heart.   The wine on the table today bears the name of a highly successful racehorse owned by the founder of the winery.  Historians credit Footbolt as the first true backer of the business. 

The Barossa Valley, though big and tempting, lay a little bit too far from city for convenient wine-hookey.  But the Barossa shiraz shows promise.  

The Burge Family Draycott Shiraz comes from another long-established family winery.  It contains about 30% Grenache, a light, sweet fruity grape that doesn't age so well.  That makes it front-runner for tonight's cork-pop, since we must drink it urgently.  The last bottle of this we opened was corked, so there will be tension in the air as we plunge in the screw. 

The Beresford Shiraz—well, the winery is a comparative newcomer, established in 1985 in Langhorne Creek.  I've not tasted any of their wines before.  A dark horse, but if the blogosphere/twittersphere/facebookworms tell us to drink it, drink it we shall.  And happily. 

Let us know what you think.


The Christmas of Drinking Half-Decent Wine for a Change. Part One.

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Time for a bit of crowdsourced Christmas cheer.  Your advice, please.

One of the curses of adulthood is patience.  Grown-ups know how to defer gratification.  It usually works out for the best, but from time to time, you have to loosen the corset, open the poppers, and live a little.

I've collected wine, in a modest way, since university days.  A few dozen nice reds actually got schlepped across oceans and equators.  Since arriving in Munich, Master Right and I began to hunt for bargains at wine auctions—the Munich Wine Company in Diesenhofen offers some real gems if you look carefully.

In a wine-auction house, most of the stock is nicely long-in-the-tooth.  Much comes from estate sales; previous owners stockpiled wine in the cellar, waiting for it to age, and never quite made it to their last tipple. 

It occurred to us that some of our wine is so old, that it may no longer improve with age.  And that if we drink the stuff at our current modest rate, it could end up with a new owner, yet again.

So Master Right and I have declared 2012 the Christmas of Drinking Half-Decent Wine for a Change.   We're having a quiet Christmas at home, but you can celebrate with us.   Tell us which bottle to open with tonight's traditional baked ham. The choice is between two chardonnays, and a pinot bianco.  

The bottle in the centre is a classic 2001 White Burgundy from the Mersault appellation near Beaune—a find from the MWC. This wine is so smooth that you scarcely know you're drinking it, until you suddenly realise how happy you are.  We bought half a dozen to impress my high-school pal Neville.

Neville poses a grammatical problem when I choose to describe him.  That problem is the order of adjectives. 

Is Neville the cigar-smoking, ballroom-dancing, black-belted, corporate-compliance-credentialled, wine-connoisseur banker?  Or is he the banking, ballroom dancing, corporate-compliance-credentialled, wine-connoisseur, black-belted cigar-smoker? 

(You needn't look for him amongst my Facebook friends; one could include internet-prudent on the list of adjectives, too.)

Of course, the aspect of his many-faceted character that concerns us is wine-conoisseur

The bottle on the left is an Eileen Hardy Chardonnay, sourced in cleanskin.  Neville offered it as a gift in exchange for one of the bottles of Mersault.  The grapes for this vintage probably came from the limestone soils of the Padthaway vineyards, in the far south-eastern corner of the state of South Australia.  Online reviews call it "plump".  Online merchants call it expensive, but sourcing it in cleanskin makes it consumable with a good conscience. 

The bottle on the right is a younger choice, from 2006. Given the sweetness of the meat, someting drier and fruitier may be in order, like a Pinot Bianco.   The Jermann wine has a misleading name—it's not German at all, but Italian, from the region just to the north-west of Trieste.   My maternal grandfather was born not far from there.  

So help us choose.  Better palates than mine have given a merry thumbs-up to all of these. 

We're giving you all a nice big, plump thumbs up, too, for the holiday.  May you have a happy one.

Stay tuned to help us decide how to wash down the duck on Christmas day.