I’ve been accused from time to time of being a wine contrarian, pointedly zigging when common trends were zagging. It can be a lonely life, living alone on a stubborn island of my own construct, like when I was the only member of the “Hooray for Chardonnay” club in 1998, or when I coined the phrase “You Had Me At Merlot” in 2007 but nobody cared. These days I’m at it again – either ahead of my time or hopelessly behind it – when I say:
I am wholly, unreasonably, diving with clothes on, into Australian Shiraz right now. I just smiled uncontrollably when I typed that.
I can already hear people say “ugh, they’re so fat and jammy”. Yeah, some are, I’m not in to those ones. “There’s no nuance or complexity”, I hear. Well, stop drinking that non-nuance-y un-complex crap and looky here: There are oodles of balanced, gorgeous, positively civilized Shirazes from Australia, wines that stun and beam and glow – and the best ones combine an almost extra-terrestrial concentration of pure fruit with an elegant, precise finish. Maybe I like good Shiraz because it’s so honestly built to make us happy, no tricks, just beauty and power. Behold:
Powell and Son 2015, Barossa and Eden Valley
To hear Dave Powell explain how he was kicked out of Torbreck, the winery he founded, is to experience a masterclass in Australian profanity, after our meeting I had to check our building’s foundations for fissures. At Torbreck, Dave made Australia’s first 100pt Parker wine, but since he owned no land, he built handshake relationships with all of Barossa’s Old Vine growers to build his reputation. I’m not sure what Torbreck makes wine from now, because all of those growers (and their fruit) followed Dave to his new winery he founded with his son Callum (who works half the year in Hermitage with J.L. Chave). This blend of ripe Barossa fruit contained by the fresh brightness of Eden valley is stunning, deep spicy dark fruits with Earl Grey and crushed rocks and herbs – a hauntingly pretty nose – followed by a rolling body and a finish that is both intense and almost weightless (the younger Powell’s Rhone influences show here). We’ll be pouring this on Saturday in the River District Vintage Room at 3pm, you do in fact need to try this. 95 points Robert Parker, $78.49 +tax
Penfolds R.W.T. Vertical, Barossa Valley
“What if we made Grange with French oak instead of American oak”, was the question. “Let’s test it out” said John Duval, the Chief Winemaker at Penfolds in 1995. Thus was born “Red Wine Trial”, which Penfolds decided was far too romantic and shortened to RWT when the first vintage was released in 2000. RWT is like Christian Slater in Heathers, not easy to make friends with initially but things get real interesting if you actually do. Bordeaux is clearly the guiding light here, structure currently holds sway over fruit (and may always), but the muscle and timeless frame are bulletproof and the spicy vanilla, cherry notes over earthen game almost trick you into thinking this is going to be subtle. It ain’t. Of all 3 vintages the 2011 is the most Bordelais, elegant and drinkable, the 2013 carries the most bullets. The new vintage comes in at $250 but we are going to sell the back vintages at the old price of $149.99 +tax
RWT 2011 – 93 Wine Spectator, $149.99 +tax
RWT 2012 – 93 Wine Spectator, $149.99 +tax
RWT 2013 – 95+ Robert Parker, $149.99 +tax
Everything Wine Tasting Lab – The Two Kings of Spain, Thursday February 15 6:30pm
Brix Studio - #102 - 211 Columbia Street, Vancouver – Hosted by me!
Tickets: $57.25 +fees and tax
Our new series of off-site, downtown classes takes on the twin regions of Rioja and Ribera del Duero, the origins of Spanish wine, the Traditional vs. Modern debate, and the very nature of Tempranillo. Since it’s off-site we can pour more wines, and there’ll be yums on hand, so follow the link below (it’s through Eventbrite, we don’t sell the tix through this store) to get a head-start on this year’s Wine Fest theme!!