Sparkling red wine – more Australian liquid history

4.28pm, Monday 1st June, The Harbourside, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

Afternoon folks, we’ve just come in from doing a Rare & Fine tasting for the local Newcastle area trade at the Customs House Hotel – thanks Gabrielle for the lovely upstairs room – and I’ve got a bit of time before we head off to the Scratchleys on the Wharf dinner.

So, I promised the folks in most recently Wagga and Canberra, and several other spots over the last year – that when I opened my last bottle of Yalumba D Black – our  Sparkling (Methode Champenoise) Cabernet Shiraz – that I’d put it up on the blog and Twitter for everyone to see how it’s travelling. So I waited for a suitably special occasion, and last night was it. I have been fortunate to work with some exceptional operators whilst at Yalumba, and for the last 19 years our man who has looked after the area around Newcastle right up to Coffs Harbour has been one Bryan (“Ferrari, it’s Bryan with a Y, and yes …..it matters”) Wiggins. In 4 weeks time, ‘Wiggo’ leaves the company, he’s retiring to a life of fishing and lawn mowing down on the southern NSW beaches, and I for one…..will miss him greatly. I can say all this nice stuff because even though he has an I pad……he hasn’t really mastered it, so the blog and Twitter are currently out of the area of his technical expertise. But don’t worry, I’ll print this blog entry out on paper, fold it up, pop it in an envelope and send it to him via Australia Post. He loves getting letters, as it reminds him of the good old days! Actually, I like sending them, because I’m a bit of a fan of those good old days myself. But I’m getting distracted!

I kept this last bottle of 1998 Yalumba D Black for a special occasion, and last night we had our farewell dinner with Wiggo, so out the cork came! I made sure the bottle was seriously frosty first, then took special care to make notes and take pictures at every step in the process, because a promise to report on its progress is a promise. So, here we go:

1. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the wine – this is it.

  
2. Wire of, gently eased the cork out and…..yes! The cork had collapsed to vertical, with no flare whatsoever, but it did the job, held the gas pressure, and we got the pop!

  
3. Into the glass, and the colour is tops! Deep red, still has some purples – to brick red slightly orange at the edges, which indicates it’s in really good shape for a 17 year old! 

  
4. Then I popped my nose over the glass…yay! Clean as a whistle, and first up, serious core lift of intense black currant Ribena cordial, then Chinese five spice, and bacon – yes I said bacon! Then even a bit sarsparilla- ey or even flat cola-ey. But nice!

5. But it was the next bit that took the cake! The taste! Chilled to bits soft frothy bubbles, plummy Xmas cake flavours then that five spice again – dries out a bit but with no aggression, and there’s that bacony salty savoury thing again. The first taste was a burst of flavour that finished a bit short, but you wanted another mouthful straight away…..and it stretched out a bit further with a toch less chill. Very nice stuff folks, and in an empty glass, there was that residual boiled and baked fruit cake spice and sweet.

Well worth hanging on to, and lots of “oohs and aahs” from all participants. Probably drinking at its peak, but if you don’t mind the savoury flavours, possibly good for another 3-5 years.

Final observations? 

– only drama with this wine is that I don’t have any more!

– makes you realise just how fabulous Sparkling Red wines of weight – the old Australian ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ styles – are, and why they go so jolly well with bacon and eggs! Especially Schulz’s (angaston) single smoked bacon cured over smouldering red gum shavings. Or legs of ham with quince paste/ jelly and /or cranberry sauce. Or sweet potatoes baked whole, then sliced lengthways and finished with brown sugar, cinnamon and butter! OK I’m stopping there – I’ve put on a kilo just thinking about those three options.

– we loved the 1998 Yalumba D Black, we wished we still made it, and we suitably started the Farewell Wiggo program of events. If you have a bottle in your cellar, find a really good reason to open it……it won’t let you down!

 
Report done! 

2 responses to “Sparkling red wine – more Australian liquid history

  1. Thanks fir sharing Jane – yours truly The Black Queen!

    • Amazing how any people ask me already this Rare & Fine tour why we stopped making the D Black, and I have no credible reason. It’s a shame as I think there’s a real resurgence of interest in the style – just like the one happening with fortifieds! Ask Seppeltsfield if fortifieds are doing well, and Rockford if their Black Shiraz is sold out? Thanks for your note, and check out the Sparkling Shiraz in the crown seal from Majella Wines, Coonawarra.

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