Saturday, 11 September 2010

International Grenache Day - 24th September

It was a little like the girl at school you know of, but have never spoken to. Your paths have crossed on a few occasions, how could they not? But you’d never plucked up the courage to talk.  She wasn’t one of the girls in the “cool-kids” group, but is certainly attractive. Maybe, to you, she was a late bloomer.

Then, an introduction through some mutual friends leads to you hitting it off. It leaves you wondering why you had never been truly acquainted until now. You try and meet regularly, you develop a fondness.

I am talking about Grenache. The chance encounter I refer to was a road trip around some of Australia’s southern states, Melbourne to Adelaide with stays in McLaren Vale and the Barossa.  Yes, Grenache and I had met before. We had enjoyed the company of each other. Was I truly aware of her existence? Probably not. Shiraz would most likely find herself on the way home with me after a visit to the bottle shop.

And now Grenache is starting to get the attention it deserves – I’ll drop the feminine form for Grenache from here. International Grenache Day is to be held on the 24th September. A series of events will take place on this day – chosen to coincide with the first Grenache symposium. The tag line for the event is to “put Grenache in its rightful place on the wine map”. Some have criticised focussed on Grenache as a varietal – petulantly considering it “stupid”, nigh in the manner of a teen spurned by a peer. Each to their own.

Events can be formal, or otherwise. Grab some Grenache, some friends, have a “tweet-up” (remember to use the hash-tag #Grenache). But most of all, as wine is intended, enjoy.

I shall be participating, and at this early juncture have plans to grab something Aussie - ideally a Teusner to support their efforts at supporting this event, a Garnacha and a Grenache dominant Rhone blend; to represent Grenache in its many guises, outfits and representations.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Black Pearl Epicure: Exclusive Hand Picked Wines

I was fortunate enough to be invited to a tasting of some exclusive French imports. The wines haven't been seen in Australia as yet and are being imported by the The One Hundred Wine label on behalf on well known Brisbane providores Black Pearl Epicure.

My first thought, maybe naively, when it comes to French wines is "expensive". Thus I was very impressed by the quality on offer at what I consider reasonable prices.

These are the stand out wines from the evening for me, for the full range, please refer to the link above behind the One Hundred Wine label - even better snaffle yourself a few of these gems!

NV Pierre Moncuit Delos Brut Grand Cru
This was the second Champagne tasted on the night - and yes this can genuinely be called that, hailing from what many consider the most prestigious village in Champagne: Mesnil-sur-Oger.

A non-vintage champagne, yet all the fruit hails from a single growing year, it has an incredible finish. The length is amazing, with a complexity that lingers long after the final drop glides the back of the throat. A bargain at $65.

2007 Domaine Grand Veneur Lirac
This was the fifth wine tasted on the night. It had been decanted for around an hour, allowing some of the fruit to shine through.

Pleasant savoury aromas on the nose, with spice on the palette. There's some length in the finish and moderate herbal tannins. Some may consider it a bruiser at 15% but it works, at $35 this is an impressive GSM (50/35/15% in that order).

2007 Domain Les Aphillanthes, 'Cuvee Des Galets' Cotes du Rhone
Another classic Rhone GSM (60/20/20%). The nose showed some savory characteristics, with a faint whiff of Anise. The palate showed typical fruit profile, with plenty of blackcurrant. The finish lingered and chewy, grippy tannins stayed in the mouth. This is a 10 year cellaring proposition and at $33, to me, is a bargain. I was fortunate enough to take the remnants of the bottle home to share with the wife the following day; it was even better then, the aromas had integrated further, showing balance and structure - giving hints of its cellaribility.

2008 Domaine Vincent Paris Saint Joseph
This was the star of the night. Despite being a Northern Rhone Shiraz, it was almost Burgundian in its aroma profile. In the mouth, gentle tannins were present, with a beautiful lingering finish.

Only 200 cases made, this another wine for the cellar. It can be consumed young, but is nigh on essential to decant to appreciate it. A snip at $40.

Summary
I consider myself very fortunate to have been invited to this event. The host was Richard Gardiner. Richard is a friend of the importers, but is also well known in Brisbane for running the blog Food Bling - a down to earth, unpretentious look at Brisbane growing food scene.

On the wines, again I was very impressed at the quality available at the price points. One of the other attendees, Lincoln Scott of grapescott, stated this was as they were coming direct, not via negociants. The wines are a very good introduction to France, either now, or even better as cellarworthy propositions.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Samuel's Gorge Tasting

To me Twitter has been a fantastic way of hooking into the Australian wine community, enabling me to connect with local scribes, wineries and distributors.

It was through said medium that I learn that renowned McLaren Vale producer Samuel's Gorge is coming to Brisbane on the 9th September to conduct a public tasting at the Grand Central Hotel on Ann Street - immediately in front of Central Station.

There appears to be little in the way of official information on either the winery or venue websites.

My sole introduction to Samuel's Gorge was at the BYO Favs and Pizza Dinner (see post of the same name). However, suffice to say my recollections of that wine are such that this tasting is a must-attend event for me.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

A Couple of Stickies

My good wife sneakily arranged to take me to dinner recently, even going as far as to deceive me by arrange for some friends to look after our daughter.

I'm not complaining mind. The destination was a local restaurant where we have eaten on a few occasions previous: Two Small Rooms.

As ever, the food was sublime. Good quality fare, probably best placed in the 'bistro' category. Its name gives you an indication of its size - it is two small rooms: well staffed, a good seasonal menu with quality ingredients, a decent wine list featuring imports and Australian wines - plus you can BYO.

Our meal was wonderful, I'm not going to wax lyrical over it, it was an occasion shared with my wife.

What I do want to share is a couple of dessert wines that were available by the glass.

2003 Grande Maison Cuvee du Chateau Monbazillac
A delightful honeyed, candied fruit sweetie with a pale golden colour; the familiar unctuous presence in the glass. Paired wonderfully with a Bitter Chocolate Tart, Yogurt Gelato and Pistachio Nuts.

2006 Passito di Pantelleria Pellegrino Sicily
Made by the Pellegrino of San Pellegrino fancy water fame, and made from (IIRC) drying out and then vinifying Sicilian Zibibbo Muscat grapes. A delightful pale colour, none of the overt sweetness of Moscato that I have tasted previously, orange blossom and apricot present on the palette.