All Stories in "australia"
Are you familiar with Californian Syrah? It's that inky, peppery grape flavored up on dark fruits and topped off with a generous heap of oak. How about Petite Sirah? Another opaque colored wine that blankets your tongue with vacuum-like tannins ("petite" is the irony of it all). Blend these two varietals together and you have some crazy good black magic - or as Karen McNeil, author of The Wine Bible, says about Syrah by itself, "Like wearing cowboy boots with a tuxedo. Rustic yet elegant". Petite Sirah adds the spurs and 10-gallon hat. Now, has Shiraz or Durif ever touched your lips? Well, you may or may not know these two grapes are actually the Australian (and South African) equivalent of Syrah and Petite Sirah. Same grapes, different location. Australia's sun-kissed terroir gives their version a little bit more fruit. In either case, both varietals thrive in dry, hot climates where wide-brimmed hats are fashionable AND functional. A wine that is spicy, bold and punchy like a Shiraz/Durif blend deserves an equally rugged soundtrack: The goods Let's crack open a bottle of 2016 The Black Stump Durif Shiraz, created by winemaker Alan Kennett. This beast's grapes are grown in South Eastern Australia, which is notorious for its distant vineyards and producing the country's best wines. In fact, "The Black Stump" often refers to the Australian Outback where going "beyond the black stump" means heading into a remote or uncivilized area. A pretty killer fit for the label, right? This wine will come at you with Durif leading the charge at 60% and Syrah's peppery fruit rounding it out at 40%. The result is a spiced jam hit that is brawny yet easy to drink - like a bodybuilder serving a savory but light breakfast. It'll finish dry but carrying a smooth chocolate undertone with it. In other words, a solid select for easing into the "grippy" world of earthier wines. For less than 14 bucks to get a bottle, this is a pretty easy call. Also feel free to rack it for a few years. The tunes Austin's The Black Angels are an excellent choice to complement the Durif/Shiraz. These Texans exude a psychedelic sound that is rugged while ethereal in its delivery - much like The Black Stump's peppery foundation that leaves your mouth with a souvenir of dark fruit and chocolate. Imagine kicking your feet up on the fire pit (not too close, dammit!) on a chilly night in Joshua Tree. You've got the sprawling, minimalist desert landscape ahead and nothing but time on your hands. The Black Stump will bring out the harsh terroir in front of you while The Black Angels' trippy vibe will do the same. You'll easily get lost in your own head. The combo translates well to a chill hangout just as much as it does a rowdy night dancing around said fire with friends. Joshua Tree The Black Angels have a new album this year, but I'd recommend going back to roots with their 2008 release Directions To See A Ghost. The psychedelic tone is thick on this cut and marries with the Australian Durif Shiraz incredibly well. Turn it up, pour it out, and enjoy!
In the world of wine there are the shining stars; the household names that don’t have to be a contributor of a blend to get some recognition. These grapes are Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, even Riesling just to name a few. Then there are the grapes intrinsically used for the said purpose of producing the ever-popular blend. Blending wines have been given the explicit task of hanging out with two-plus varietals for their entire existence. Sad times. But how like our world, really, that we would have varietals that accept award after award for their beauty and brilliance, while their supporting actors do everything they can to measure up and yet still remain secondary in popularity. Well, this is 2017 and we’re saying hello to equal rights. In light of Oscar season, we’re shedding some starlight on the grapes that tend to slip between the cracks of your prototypical wine lists and give credit where credit is due! The characteristics theses blending varietals possess may need some warming up to. But once offered the opportunity, they deserve quite the standing ovation. Let’s roll the film, shall we? Today we’re taking a deeper look at three varietals that are infrequently given the chance - but perfectly able - to stand alone. Lucky for a few select regions on the entire planet, we now have some wonderful ones to explore. Without further ado, I present to you: Cabernet Franc, Mourvédre and Sémillon! (Enter frantic cheers here). Cabernet Franc Let’s start off easy here with a word that sounds familiar: Cabernet. Phew, see! We can do it! Now add Franc, and you have a whole separate varietal to play around with: Cabernet Franc. We have this fine varietal, as well as Sauvignon Blanc, to thank for getting grafted and producing our beloved Cabernet Sauvignon. The two grape vines got together a looong time ago and churned out what we now have as one of the leading varietals on Earth. Talk about the family favorite. Cab Franc is a bit less friendly to the California palate than its offspring and, thus, has gotten a bad wrap. But its peppery, crushed violet, flinty, dark chocolate-ness is absolutely superb in the correct setting. It originally got its big break in the land of Bordeaux, France as part of the infamous blends that are mainly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Nowadays, the varietal has gotten around a bit and is making its big domestic debut in Washington, New York and California. The goods: Cabernet Franc If you want to ease into the idea of this “blending grape” taking center stage (and happen to have some extra jangle in your pocket) give Spring Valley Vineyard’s Katherine Corkrum Cabernet Franc a try. This Washington jewel is, truthfully, a blend as well, but with 90% Cabernet Franc leading the way, we’ll let it slide. In other news, hailing from a small region of North Fork on New York’s Long Island, is the 2014 Harbes Family Vineyard’s version of the grape. Give their herbaceous yet plump Franc a try and you might just have found your new favorite varietal. Lastly, let's assume you don't want to spend this week’s paycheck on an experiment. Give the 100% Cabernet Franc from Reserve des Vignerons Saumur Champigny, in the Loire Valley of France a shot. Peppery to the max and combined with touches of violet and perfume make for a pleasant experience to be sure. Let this one aerate for a hot second. Otherwise the grip of the structure might leave a bad taste in your mouth - pun intended. Katherine Corkrum Cab Franc Mourvèdre Alright, raise your hand if you’ve heard of this guy? Hmm. A sparse few. Raise your hand if you’ve heard of the blend abbreviation GSM? Ah! There we go! GSM is a palate-pleasing blend of three grapes you truly can’t go wrong with. That to say, you may only know what the “G” and “S” represent as the varietals have stood on their own for ages. It’s now time for our “M” friend to step into the limelight. Say it with me now, “Mourvèdre”. Originally part of the Rhône Valley’s admirable line up of varietals, Mourvèdre is now being planted all over, and incognito as well. You may have had this grape before and not even realized it, for in Spain its name is Monastrell. In Australia? Mataro. It does extremely well in hot regions. So it’s no shock that Australia, Spain, Southern France and the booming California region of Paso Robles have each staked their claim with the varietal. The goods: Mourvèdre So let’s break this down. Ever crave BBQ, short ribs, pork sausage? Pair it with Mourvèdre. You enjoy Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah? Give this plum and blackberry, deep maroon colored, full-bodied drop a try. For example, $40 can buy you an excellent version of the varietal from Tablas Creek Winery in Paso Robles. Want to try a version from foreign soil? Tesoro Monastrell offers spice, lots of just ripened blueberries and a surprising touch of orange zest for less than a pretty penny. Cheers to exploring new territory! Sémillon Lemme tell you about this gem. Talk about a diamond in the rough of a Chardonnay dominated white wine community! Sémillon is the blending partner to Sauvignon Blanc, both possess the fame of original Bordeaux roots. The match is one made in Heaven to be sure, as they share the crisp flavors of citrus, green apple and pear. But what Sémillon offers to the blend is a fuller mouthfeel; a softer, waxy sensation. It truly rounds out the racy herbaceousness that is Sauvignon Blanc. The goods: Sémillon Don’t be dismayed that this understated wine has a lower average ABV (alcohol by volume). There’s nothing wrong with having a ridiculously easy drinking white on hand for those sunny afternoons that you’d actually like to remember enjoying. However, Sémillon changes a bit depending on the climate it’s planted in. You can expect a touch higher ABV from warmer climates such as South Australia and California like Cuda Ridge Wines’ 2015 Semillon from the Central Coast. If you're curious for seeing what Oz has to offer, try this delectable drop from Hunter Valley Australia. Tyrrell’s Old Winery 2012 expression of the grape is one that will keep you going back for more and, at around 12 bucks a bottle, I suppose you could afford to do just that. Cuda Ridge Barrels So next time friends, let’s remember the little people that helped the big bad varietals of our day get to their place of stardom. After all, it’s clear that everyone deserves a shot at the big screen. Happy drinking! Sam Stowell Samantha Stowell began her adventure with wine 4 years ago after quitting her corporate life as an interior designer. After completing the Advanced Level 3 WSET course, she traveled to McLaren Vale, Australia to work for Mollydooker wines. Since returning, she has been the sommelier of a wine bar in Downtown Santa Ana, CA, helping to develop their wine program and is currently the resident sommelier at Yves’ Restaurant & Wine Bar in Anaheim Hills, CA.
The Wines of Westeros: Vino For The 'Game of Thrones' Enthusiast It may be April, but winter is coming! George R.R. Martin’s fantasy opera, Game of Thrones, is set to return to devices everywhere April 24th for the premiere of its sixth season on HBO. Although its superb production and captivating storytelling are impressive, what defining factor causes fans (including ourselves) to huddle affront the tube to watch? Like countless other cult-favorite shows and comics, an interactive culture has spawned due to the series, heavily rooted in cosplay, fan fiction, distinct geography, languages, traditions, and values. Of all the merchandise that has hit the market to date, our favorite has to be The Wines of Westeros, a company that sells wine specifically designed and themed after the show. Whether you have an elevated taste for a Lannister favorite, golden arbor wine, or a preference of a Dornish sour red, Wines of Westeros has developed a product native to each of the kingdoms across the Game of Thrones realm. This offbeat approach bridges the gap between reality and the fantasy world for fans and common drinkers alike. While creating an enjoyable experience, Wines of Westeros is a uniquely collaborative concept that extends its reach to wine drinkers, collectors, and die-hard Throners across the globe. The Wines of Westerns offerings. Photo: Common Ventures According to Common Ventures, the parent company of Wines of Westeros, they have used their unique product to create vino-economic stimulation for the wine surplus in Australia. Six red labels and six white labels have been specifically designed thus far with hopeful plans for many more. The initial inception of the idea and site led to 430,000 page views within the first few weeks, leaving a powerful impact on fans globally. The demands for The Wines of Westeros reached such unprecedented levels that their site and product are currently being renovated to better suit the demand of Game of Thrones enthusiasts. We will be keeping our eyes on what the digital winery will come up with next. Until then, stay updated with the latest at their official website.
Music and Wine should be paired. We call this VINOMUSIC. A new year has begun, and for many of us, we are starting fresh and living by positive mantras. Maybe you want to be more physically active? To buckle down and take charge of your finances? Aim to find the love of your life? Or just maybe, you plan to travel as much as you can to somewhere bright, carefree, and sunny, where you can take in inspiration all around you. Break out a bottle of Penfolds Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling and press play on 'Things Are Getting Better' by N.E.R.D., from their debut release Fly Or Die. This music and wine pairing is perfectly bright and sunny; sure to transport you and satisfy the wanderlust within. The young riesling evokes fresh flavors of apple and lime with a balanced mineral edge. Paired with the track, we are reminded that things truly do get better, one day at a time. Take 2016 by the horns, and make it count! Listen to 'Things Are Getting Better' below. Learn more about Penfolds Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzPLPb8QuuM
Music and Wine should be paired. We call this VINOMUSIC. Musically, we have kept #VINOMUSIC in the United States in previous weeks, but for this edition let's take a long flight to the land down under. December is the official start to summer in Australia, so why not pair some summery tunes by an Aussie band paired with a local wine? Let's! Maybe I'm partial to tunes that are sweet because I love dessert, but "Molasses," by Aussie soul band Hiatus Kaiyote, is just too good to pass up. The intricate songwriting from the Grammy-nominated unit is a tribute to a powerful love with an attraction that runs deep. In a way, the characteristics of the song are very similar to that of Penfolds Club Tawny. The Australian winemaker's tawny port is youthful but encompasses great depth, displaying an intense combination of both fruit and spirit. Aged in seasoned oak barrels, this dessert wine is a step above the rest. Sip it slowly and let lead singer Nai Palm's sultry vocals transport you to the vibrant coast around Bondi Beach. A perfect way to warm yourself up. Listen to "Molasses" here, and check out the live version below. Learn more about Penfolds Club Tawny here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21aaJYFNgbc