Thursday, October 12, 2006

Winter warmers.

With winter starting to set in (clocks go back at the end of this month!!! an extra hour in bed YAY!!!!!!), the wines we are selling are starting to get a little bit heavier, and richer, with more spicy notes and flavours emerging. Of course the Rhone Valley in France is an obvious place to look for rich spicy reds with plenty of grip and flavour, but there are a few New World pretenders out there, and I was reminded of them the other night.

Top of my list would be the Charles Melton Nine Popes. From the Barossa Valley, comes this venerable homage to a Chateauneuf, from Australia's premier Rhone Ranger. An exquisite blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre, the aromas invoke mental images of scrubby bushes with peppery fruits and dense black fruit with a strong menthol note running through the middle.

Next up would be one of the most eccentric winemakers you could ever hope to meet. In the same way that people were unsure if Spike Milligan was a genius or insane, it is hard to decide which side of the line Randall Grahm sits on. Randall is the muse and chief winemaker at Bonny Doon Vineyards and one of his most inspired wines is the iconic Le Cigare Volant. Named in homage to an obscure law passed in 1954 in Chateauneuf banning the landing of Flying Saucers (les Cigares Volant - the flying cigars) in the vineyards. Of all the new world prentenders of the Chateauneuf throne, Le Cigare is the most authentic in its cepage. Dominated by the tag team of Mataro (Mourvedre) and Syrah at 35% apiece, touched up with a dose of grenache (22%), some cinsault (7%) and just a smidge of Counoise (1%). Dried Black peppercorns with anise, black fruits, and roasted mediterranean herbs remind me ever so much of a nicely seasoned rack of lamb, which this wine would complement ever so well. As I mentioned to someone this afternoon, it takes a clever man to come up with a name like le Cigare Volant for a vineous homage to Chateauneuf. It takes a demented genius to package those wines in a gigantic cigar box. But thats Randall Grahm all over,

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