Two from Down Under

Linchpin McLaren Vale ShirazLinchpin McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004

This award-winning Shiraz hails from McLaren Vale on Australia’s southern coast. The complex soil types here combine with the St. Vincent’s Gulf breezes to make for ideal vineyard conditions.

Winemaker Matt Rechner believes the best way to make excellent wine is through simple processes and minimal handling for maximum flavor extraction. Here the grapes were harvested from low-yield vineyards, then spent 20 months in French and American oak. The concentrated fruit, supported by notes of chocolate and blackberry, certainly comes through in this relatively high-alcohol (15.2%) Shiraz. It has a lush, velvet-like mouth feel and well-balanced oak tannins.

Serve with lamb stew accented by eggplant, saffron, and raisins, or shepherd’s pie.

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2006

Kim Crawford is perhaps New Zealand’s most famous wine maker. After 20 years as an independent, three years ago he sold out to an American holding company. However, he was allowed to pursue boutique bottlings, and we have one of those here.

This Sauvignon Blanc dodges the grassiness which so often mars this varietal when it originates in New Zealand. Instead there is a tart, refreshing, distinct grapefruit nose and taste. Completely dry, with a bit of flint on the finish. Delicious.

Pair this wine with lobster tacos, seafood paella, or parmesan-dijon chicken drumsticks.

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Cockfighter’s Ghost Shiraz

Cockfighter’s Ghost Shiraz

I Come from a Land Down Under

In this post I sample two uncommon wines that only have one thing in common: they both come from Australia’s McLaren Vale.

Cockfighter’s Ghost Shiraz 2002

Some say that if the light of the moon is just right, the ghost of Cockfighter the horse can be seen galloping through the vineyards of Pooles Rock.

Perhaps. The wine named in his memory is anything but ephemeral, however. Cockfighter’s Ghost Shiraz first greets you with a powerful nose of earth and dark berry fruit. The berry and black plum flavors continue on the palate, supported by some spice, black pepper, and oak. The color is a dense, dark crimson.

After letting this shiraz ‘breathe’ for at least an hour to soften its edges, serve with rare roast beef and field mushrooms, spicy sausages with tomatoes and Italian beans, or oven-roasted rack of lamb.

Tapestry Chardonnay 2005

This chardonnay is an excellent value, with more character than its relatively low price would predict.

The wine spent nine months on-lees in new French oak, and features a very appealing balance of juicy stone fruit and a citrus acidity, supported by the spicy, toasty oak, with a moderately long finish. There was no malo-lactic fermentation. The color is pale straw with green tints.

Serve lightly chilled with coquille St. Jacques, fried calamari, or grilled whole red snapper.

[Unfortunately, Tapestry Wines is now reported closed.}

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