Tonight I welcome my good friend Lloyd, who is taking a load off my liver once again. I take Lloyd's Oz recommendations seriously - Lloyd was instrumental in building the Aussie corner of my cellar, which I believe is an enviable selection of 60-odd Oz collectibles. Here's a pair of recommendations that he (suspiciously) did not inform me of...
I’m an unabashed fan of Australian wines, and the two wines I opened for dinner with some good friends recently were a microcosm of what’s so good about Australia. Texas-Mesquite-rubbed chickens were on the grill with whole-roasted peppers and brown rice on the side, so I picked a GSM and a Shiraz for my Oz-oriented crowd, and didn’t miss with either.
The 2005 Kaesler Stonehorse GSM was spicy and full-bodied; not in-your-face, but hardly shy. It was an interesting match for hummus and spiced nuts, and gently oozed fruit and sweet chocolate that got better and better as cocktail hour stretched to 2+. Pepper on the nose and fine tannins seemed more Rhone than Barossa, but the sheer extract and good concentration of this one are decidedly Barossa. The alcohol is well-hidden behind the broad wall of fruit in here. Dark chocolate and cherry dominate with an interesting acidity and good length. This was a nice GSM at any price, but at under C$20, this represents a considerable value.
Of note, this is the first ever wine for me that was better the second day than the first. I’ve read and heard about this phenomenon it before, but thought it one of those urban myths. For the Stonehorse GSM, it’s the truth. A second bottle we opened but didn’t finish was notably smoother and rounder and slightly more concentrated and balanced after 24 hrs back under its screwtop. Clarissa did say she thought it was a bit too sweet on day two. The Stonehorse is widely available at the SAQ, and should be picked up at any sale for just over $20, a great value.
screwtop. 15.5% alcohol
Price: C$23.20 (less 10%)
The 2004 Turkey Flat Vineyards Shiraz Barossa was an incredibly pleasant surprise. The oak and licorice nose remind me of a favourite of mine (and Joe’s), the Elderton Command, but with a bit less concentration and aromatics. Coffee, cassis and plum round out the great nose that got better and better as the night went on. Full-bodied, round and broad – a mouthful of soft and wonderfully balanced red fruit and some blueberry and plum lead to a very long finish with some spice and very fine tannins that speak to potential for real longevity and improvement. Not quite the finesse of the Command, but impressive nonetheless at C$51 with a long life ahead of it. This was probably a bit early, but I bought a number of these and was too curious to wait.
This was the winner of the night and there was nothing left of the two bottles to test for next-day potential. The ’04 and ’05 Turkey Flat are available at SAQ and LCBO, and should be on the shopping list (especially for any upcoming sales). This wine was a great match for the rubbed chickens, but really came out (3 hrs+ post-decant) for the 85% dark chocolate for dessert.
cork. 15% alcohol
Price: C$51 (less 10%)
Together, these wines speak to the great combination of good Aussie wines – great taste, distinctive personalities, good-to-great value, early drink-ability with ageing potential and, in the spirit of most things Australian, good fun without taking itself too seriously!