BRASH HIGGINS ‘MRLO’ Merlot 2014
McLaren Vale, South Australia
I like that Brad Hickey, an American winemaker, made this Merlot. Why is that, do you ask? Back in 2004 there was an American film about wine called ‘Sideways’, that changed the opinion of many a wine drinker on Merlot when the protagonist angrily shouted, “If anybody orders Merlot I’m leaving! I am not drinking any [insert expletive] Merlot!” Such a statement was enough to dampen sales of Merlot around the United States. It was even felt here. Merlot became daggy to the industry and remained the humble comfort wine for those who chose not to care. So to have Mr Hickey make such a great example of the Merlot grape under his Brash Higgins label and subsequently tear down the daggy barrier sort of makes this come full circle. Merlot is back.
This example was not made just like any other wine. It was fermented in clay amphora vessels for six weeks, spent a little time in seasoned oak and had a wee 10% addition of Nero d’Avola to add acidity, tannin and some exoticness. The result is a wine with a hint of purple fruits but dominated by savoury characteristics such as black tea, marzipan and schist – a similar character that I have found in Brash Higgins’ other wines that were fermented in amphora. You will notice some smokiness to the finish and great balance with a restrained ripeness despite this being 14.5% alcohol.
Only 55 cases were made so keep an eye out for the Brash Higgins effect, which will turn old opinions on their heads.
Stockists: Harry & Frankie, Port Melbourne and The Town Mouse, Carlton
UNICO ZELO Dolcetto ‘Cherry Fields’ 2014
Clare Valley & Adelaide Hills, South Australia
I first came across winemaker Brendan Carter when he was still a student back in 2011. We crossed paths as Italian wine enthusiasts entered into a scholarship for that particular topic. Brendan went on to Dux the course and his prize meant he was able to travel to Italy and explore the exciting varieties the country has to offer. In the following years, Brendan has since put these experiences to their best use with the launch of his own wine label called Unico Zelo run alongside his wife Laura.
Dolcetto is recognized in Italy as a delicious medium-bodied red variety not to be taken too seriously and is suitable for everyday grazing. In fact the back of the label suggests you have this wine when you find yourself ‘eating with your hands’. The Unico Zelo example fits into a similar mould as the Italian verison with a wild ferment and maturation in old oak that optimizes the fruit profile. The nose opens with aromas of fresh black cherries, cola and a hint of vanilla. The palate is a little more liqueured cherries in flavour and shows a delicacy in its texture and balance with its refreshing acidity. My only hesitation with Unico Zelo is that it lacked the tannic presence to slow me down. That bottle disappeared all too quickly.
Stockist: Check Blackhearts & Sparrows stores (all) or be first when the new vintage comes out around October.
FRIENDS OF PUNCH Denton Vineyards Shiraz 2012
Yarra Valley, Victoria
Whoever decided to make a wine label that doesn’t actually tell you very much knew how to attract the curious minded. Case in point with this wine by Punch Vineyards. Only by turning over the figure of a goblin-like creature in a love heart on the front label, would you know that this was crafted out of cool-climate Shiraz fruit from the Denton vineyard in the Yarra Valley by two guys who know what they’re doing, winemakers Behn Payten and Gary Mills. A little further research informs us that is was made using all whole bunches, was foot stomped and then matured in old French barrels for 16 months.
The result for this Shiraz is an explosive aroma bomb showcasing sweet notes of blueberries and blackberries mixed with bitter herbs, some tar and a touch of paprika. It may seem like an odd mix, but it works really well as a medium-bodied offering complemented by a full textured palate and a savoury dryness to the finish. Try it with a simple pizza Magherita or chicken marinated with paprika.
Stockist: Direct from Punch
I have been well aware for some time that my blog has become a bit of a bore. I assume that my long-time subscribers hang on to the now monthly post in the hope for something other than a wine review. The trouble was, and has been, that life just got a little busy. In the last two years there have been several key life-changing events that took over my time: changing jobs, getting engaged, planning a wedding, looking for a house, buying said house with a lot of garden, tending to garden, renovating the house, oh, and getting married.
So to try and appease the situation, I thought I would post something that I do not seem to be doing so well lately: offering a great piece of wine writing by someone else – the talented Ron Saw with his piece called Snore (an apt title for this post too).
SNORE by Ron Saw
Sourced from The Australian Wine Browser, published 1979.
Not long ago I began receiving RSVP’s to my upcoming wedding. One friend commented to me in person that she would be there ‘with bells on’. The phrase got me thinking…what on earth would it look like to attend a party ‘with bells on’?
I decided to resort to my trusty friend, Mr Google. I think I typed in ‘woman with bells on‘ and wadd’ya know, the above video came up. It hasn’t been viewed millions of times, but I thought I should give it a nudge as it is simply ridiculous, not to mention the commentary…
Here are three young Texan lasses called the Ross Sisters, who rose to fame by singing and dancing in the 1940s with a little acrobatics and contortionist action along the way.
Enjoy their simple song, ‘Solid potato salad’.
It makes your morning stretching routine look somewhat inadequate…
So long, Winter Solstice. Thanks for swingin’ on by. In the week leading up to this darkest night of the year, not all things were doom and gloom on my end and I had many things to be thankful for. For starters, how could you not be thankful for a video clip like this. Gold.
Having purchased a property an hour west of the big smoke, my partner and I soon realised the TV reception in the area was lacking finesse, to say the least. Hence a month or so ago we found ourselves talking to a local chap who fixed our picture by installing a satellite. The only flaw in this new system is that some channels air advertisements that are specific to one area of Australia – an area where everyone needs satellite TV – and that would be Alice Springs.
As such, we often hear about Alice Springs’ local Real Estate team, the local gem store, the local parks to visit, etcetera etcetera.
In the hope of one day discovering that Alice Springs know how to make more than one decent commercial, I figured it might be a nice idea to flashback to some of my favourite Australian food and drink commercials from years gone by. Readers from overseas, you may or may not recognise some of the branded products but I hope you find the video clips entertaining nonetheless.