Browsing the archives for the McLaren Vale tag

Varietal Voyage No.20 – 2007 d’Arenberg Laughing Magpie Shiraz-Viogner

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Varietal Voyage

Our second syrah is an Australian shiraz.  Yes, syrah and shiraz are the the same grape.  Even though there are many theories, nobody really knows where the name shiraz (rhymes with pizazz) came from.  So, in the Aussie spirit (and for the sake of simplicity) we’ll stick with shiraz for this post!  When in Rome…

d’Arenberg has made wine in Australia for almost one hundred years.  The winery was founded by Joseph Osborn in 1912, but the d’Arenberg name didn’t come about until Francis d’Arenberg Osborn created his own label in 1959 to honor his mother, Frances Helena d’Arenberg.  Now, in the fourth generation of family ownership, they are guided by Francis’ son, Chester d’Arenberg Osborn as chief winemaker and viticulturist.

The 2007 Laughing Magpie Shiraz-Viognier ($20) comes from d’Arenberg’s Osborn Estate in the heart of South Australia’s McLaren Vale.  Brought to Australia in the 1830′s it has become the most popular grape down under.  McLaren Vale has a warm, Mediterranean climate, perfect conditions for heat-loving shiraz.  The soils in this area are a mixed bag of terra rosa, chalk, with sandy or clay loam depending where you are in the valley. Viognier, a white grape that also thrives in this climate, is a variety that has made its way from the Rhône valley and is growing in popularity around the world.  Viognier, with its peachy tropical fruit aromas,  is often added to the wine to boost the aromatics of the shiraz/syrah.

In the glass this young shiraz has a lovely ruby color with intense aromas of stone fruits, blackberries and black cherries.  After a short time, tobacco and cedary cigar box aromas unveiled themselves.  Spicy, dark cherry flavors and subtle amounts of blueberries and plums are balanced with mouthwatering acidity.  This medium-bodied shiraz has a soft, tannic edge that finishes off quickly and cleanly so it won’t overpower your palate.  We paired this with a hearty pizza and the Italian spices really helped accentuate the soft tannins in the wine.  I can see this going really well with a grilled burger or steak.

2007 d’Arenberg Laughing Magpie Shiraz-Viogner ($20)

Varietal Voyage – See how it started…

Shingleback “Black Bubbles” Sparkling Shiraz

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Tasting Note

Several months ago I learned about sparkling shiraz from a friend. The concept seemed interesting, so I filed it away in that dark place somewhere between my ears for future reference. As luck would have it, I spotted a bottle of Shingleback “Black Bubbles” Sparkling Shiraz at the Grapes & Tastes, the new wine shop that just opened in Cedarburg.

Shingleback Winery, in Australia’s McLaren Vale, produces many different wines, but Black Bubbles is their only sparkler. The winemakers at Shingleback blend together several vintages of shiraz to create a fruit-forward wine with relative complexity.

I brought this bottle to Thanksgiving dinner with my parents, where we enjoyed it as an aperitif. The first thing we noticed were the aromas of blackberries carried by the bubbles. The bubbles weren’t quite black, but definitely on the deep purple side of the spectrum. Very ripe, sweet flavors of blackberries and currants balanced well with its mild acidity. The spicy character and soft tannins of the shiraz really came through in the finish. Make sure to keep it well chilled. We noticed the flavors begin to fall flat as it warms up.

Not bad for the first sparkling shiraz I’ve tried. This is an easy drinking wine, perfect for a summer barbecue or a nice pairing to a sweet chocolate dessert.

Shingleback “Black Bubbles” Sparkling Shiraz ($30)