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Posts Tagged ‘Shiraz’


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At some point in this lifetime, I see myself falling head over heels in love with South African wines.  I want to love them – I really do – but it sure is difficult when you feel like you’ve been shot out of a hookah pipe when tasting them.  However, I’ll be damned to write off an entire varietal, let alone the wines from an entire country!  My tastes have evolved over the years, so I won’t let my reservations – most notably towards smoky South African wine - stand in the way of finding some exciting South African wines to share with you.

Last night…

There we were, the two of us in our little bat cave in the basement, enjoying a stack of burritos topped with charred and fried sweet corn niblets (I’ve been dying to use the word niblets in a post :) ), green chilies, spicy salsa and a mound of sour cream.  Not a pretty sight for a Kodak moment, so I’ll spare you the picture.

I grabbed two South African wines from Partnership Vineyards.  Partnership Vineyards is the result of a partnership between farmers and Riebeek Cellars in South Africa’s Riebeek Valley. Since 2004, they have planted nearly 60 hectares; 15 hectares dedicated to Sauvignon Blanc plantings on the farm they aptly named Partnership Vineyards.  This fair trade venture is divvied up 40% farm and cellar workers, 40% farmers and 20% Riebeek Cellars. Riebeek Cellars serves as the marketing and production arm of this unique, empowering initiative.

Our first wine was the 2009 Partnership Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc (Sample, MSRP: $13).  I’ll sum this wine up in a few words:  a mouthful of fresh pineapple laced with an herbaceous smoky undertone.  A piece of advice:  don’t over-chill this Sauvignon Blanc like I did.  Once it warmed up, the flavors really shined and paired well with those spicy burritos.

2 Stars out of 4 for the 2009 Partnership Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc.

The second wine of the night was the 2008 Partnership Vineyards Shiraz (Sample, MSRP: $13).  Unfortunately, this red gave me flashbacks of my less than stellar encounters with other South African reds.  Right off the bat, its savory smokiness had me gasping for air.  The combination of Slim-Jim, tobacco, vanilla, menthol and a slight hint of plum was all a bit much for me at first.  This wine needs a lot of time out of the bottle to let off some smoke before consuming.  It was much more approachable and appealing on the second day.

2 Stars out of 4 for the 2008 Partnership Vineyards Shiraz.


Late Night ‘Strange’

Let’s face it – crazy things can happen in the wee hours of the night:  spontaneous, wild acts that are better left forgotten and definitely never mentioned the next day.  You know exactly what I’m talking about – the kind of night that when you wake up the next morning, rub your eyes, half open them and say to yourself, “What the hell happened last night?!” 

I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m no angel – I’ve definitely had my fair share of rude awakenings!  In most cases, I generally abide by the code of silence that is expected after these nights; but every now and then, shouldn’t a little late night “strange” be shared with others?


It usually begins with a long talk that goes deep into the late hours.  In this particular case, it was pretty late when my wife said, “But I’m not ready for bed yet.”  Next, comes the familiar phrase, “So, what do you have in mind?”

Standing at the Crossroad

On this particular late night, my wife asked, “Can you make us a snack and grab a bottle of red?” 

I had two options here:  I could suggest that we call it a night or I could throw caution to the wind and see where this goes.

I’m a gambling man, so I said, “Sure.”  I thought to myself, “I can either keep things under control or I can take a turn so sinful and dirty that it might require asking for forgiveness the next morning.”

What do you think I did?

The Dirty

This little ‘unmentionable’ consisted of diced, (leftover) grilled Chorizo with sautéed corn, chopped bacon, chopped pecans, crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, fresh raspberries, with a scoop of sour cream and a handful of fresh cilantro.

Before you go judging my little late night indiscretions, I did take some prudence when picking the wine to go with this naughtiness.  This would require a red wine gutsy enough to contend with any “wrongness” that was happening on the plate.

I decided to go with the 2007 Wyndham Estate Shiraz George Wyndham Founder’s Reserve – that’s a mouthful!  :)   (Sample, MSRP: $20).  Chief winemaker, Nigel Dolan does a fine job of reigning in super-ripe black fruit, coupled with a tonsil-clinging nutty characteristic (reminiscent of a port wine), and knows precisely when to apply the brakes on the alcohol level.  It’s a Shiraz that offers up a lot of “impact” on the finish – which ain’t a bad thing if you’re gonna do ‘The Dirty’. 

3 Stars out of 4 for the 2007 Wyndham Estate Shiraz George Wyndham Founder’s Reserve.  The combination of flavors between the snack and wine was almost as good as an impromptu basement burlesque show…from what I hear! :)

This Tantrum Doesn’t Cause a Scene

Tempra Tantrum is the newest label from Spain’s Osborne Group and is imported by Underdog Wine Merchants.  The Osborne Group has been crafting fine sherry, brandy, wine and liqueur since 1772.   The group’s new line-up of Tempra Tantrum wines is the creation of Ms. Rocio Osborne.  Rocio’s philosophy for these new and modern style Spanish wines is to “promote the soft, generous fruitiness of the grapes, while retaining just the right amount of structure and complexity unique to the vineyards and soil of the Tierra de Castilla.”  Rocio refers to this philosophy as a “Nuevo Vino” approach.

From the first sip of the 2009 Tempra Tantrum Tempranillo (60%) / Shiraz (40%) blend (Sample, $12 MSRP), one gets a sense of Rocio’s “Nuevo Vino” approach.  With its bright and sweet, raspberry, strawberry, and subtle spice flavors – this wine is very approachable.  In particular, I can see this red wine being a big hit with people who say, “I don’t drink red wine because they’re way too dry.”  In these situations, soft and fruit-driven red wines like Beaujolais or Beaujolais Nouveau are often recommended as a primer for red wine initiates, but I’d have no problem recommending this Spanish red as well. However, with its fruity sweetness, I was not left with thoughts of Tantrums…rather, a mild sulk.

2 Stars out of 4 for the 2009 Tempra Tantrum Tempranillo/Shiraz blend.

Looking For Fireworks

“Just give me one more chance” seemed to be the message that the 2007 Concannon Central Coast Shiraz was trying to send me by the second sip on night #1.  It wasn’t too long ago that I was in a similar situation with another Concannon Vineyard red wine.  However, on that occasion the Concannon Conservancy Petite Sirah had won my taste buds over by the third night.  Could lightning strike twice?

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the 2007 Concannon Central Coast Shiraz.  I held out hope over a two day period for a similar rousing experience.  Sadly though, that something special that happens when a wine hits your tongue and fills your mouth, so that you almost don’t want to spoil the moment by swallowing it, just didn’t happen with this American Shiraz. 

The 2007 Concannon Central Coast Shiraz delivers a one-dimensional upfront dosage of moderately sweet red berries, partnered with lots of toasted vanilla-oak flavors, and struggles to display any fireworks on its finish.

2 Stars out of 4. 

SRP: $10.00

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