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Tag Archives: Australian Wines

Serving Up National Cabernet Sauvignon Day With 2010 MollyDooker Maitre d’

Today has been a day of juggling…schedules, activities, and events. Wine selection for the day was no less of a balancing act. I woke up today to see on the calendar that it was National Cabernet Sauvignon Day. A day to celebrate in my book as I LOVE the ‘bad boy’ of the wine world. However, I also woke to a weather report discussing 95+ degree weather and the need to prepare for a flurry of grilling and bar-b-q over the upcoming Labor Day Weekend. The art of finding a Cabernet Sauvignon that was true to its name, but would not be too heavy during the ‘Dog Days of Summer’ and would pair nicely with the savory goodness of smoked meats and picnic treats. I also wanted to make sure it was a value…most great Cabernet Sauvignons require you to sell your first born to enjoy them.

Fortunately, I found a solution from an unlikely source….Australia.

Mollydooker Vineyards is one of my favorites, producing some of the most incredible Shiraz offerings and red blends you can imagine. Many come with a sizable price tag (albeit worth the price), but they offer a Cabernet Sauvignon that I think anyone and everyone could enjoy.

The 2010 Maitre d’ Cabernet Sauvignon isn’t your typical muscly, bold Napa-styled Cab. It’s more like a Prom King…charming, personable, easily approachable, and one that most people will enjoy. Deep purple in the glass, the nose is full of big red berries, cassis, cherry, spice, and maybe even slightly like smoked meat. It’s the taste that’s going to blow you away…quite literally. It is like an explosion of fruit the second it hits your tastebuds, but then it takes you on a ride with anise, black pepper, toasty oak vanilla, and a finish…a wonderfully long finish with dark chocolate and espresso….two of my favorite things. There are enough acids in it to cut through the cheeseburgers I paired it up with, and nice, delicate tannins to give it a great mouth feel without being too heavy for the late summer heat.

Those that love a big Cab will be able to enjoy having an old friend during a time you normally wouldn’t drink a big red. Those that like something lighter will love the approachable fruit. Bar-b-q lovers will rejoice because this one will pair with ribs, burnt ends, and pulled pork just as easily as a Zinfandel, and value hunters will celebrate knowing this one won’t cause you to take out a second mortgage. This one is priced just under $30. Compared to paying $80 or more for a lot of other killer Cabs, this is a steal and easy to enjoy on a regular basis.

If only National Cabernet Day could come on a regular basis as well. Perhaps this wine could be a reason to celebrate it more often.

Cheers!

~CC

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The Weekend is Here! Time to Celebrate!

The weekend is here, which, for me is cause for celebration all unto itself. If you’re having a special dinner or brunch, but aren’t a fan of traditional (and boring) Mimosas, here is a new celebrity cocktail recipe to perk things up. It’ll go well with darn near any occasion: brunch, steak dinners, or just hanging out on the deck. Want to truly make it a “Wallaby” and take it down under? I recommend a Wolf Blass Yellow Label NV Sparkler. It won’t break the bank, and it will lend itself well to the mix. Thanks to my friends at ‘Drinks With Friends’ for the recipe post on their Facebook page. Enjoy, and happy weekend!

~CC

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/wallaby-darned/detail.aspx

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Sweet and Sassy in a Glass: 2011 Frisk Prickly Riesling

With the studying portion of my wine adventures finally done (for now at least), I can get back to the really IMPORTANT part of wine education…THE DRINKING! I can not begin to tell you how happy I am to be back to the glass after a very long sabbatical. I’m feeling refreshed and rowdy…which reminds me very much of my latest find from Australia in my Around the Wine World for Under $20 tour.

I stumbled across the 2011 Frisk Prickly Riesling and was immediately taken by the name. I admit, it’s not necessarily the most orthodox way to pick a wine, but let’s face it, most frisky, prickly things are anything but boring, so I figured it should also apply to wine.

This is a low alcohol Riesling, at 9.8% alcohol, so I figured it was going to be a sweet one. Being that it’s from the cooler growing region of Victoria, Australia, I was hoping it would have enough acid in it to balance it out nicely so it wouldn’t taste like a big glass of sugar water. I was not disappointed…in fact, it came with a few VERY pleasant surprises.

This little darling is intoxicating perfume on the nose. Floral notes, green apple, pear. The scent alone takes you to springtime fields. The absolutely fun surprise for me was the ‘fizz’. As the name ‘Prickly’ implies, it’s slightly frizzante, and the gentle sparkle tickles the tongue before hitting you with a sassy BANG of flavor. Bright lemon and citrus with notes of exotic lychee march out first, delivering a delicate, almost mocato-like sweetness, but then the sweetness gives way to a hint of smoke and lovely structure and balance. It finishes dry, with a crisp acidity and minerality that is wonderfully refreshing.

This little number has something for everyone and is about as versatile as they come. This would pair up perfectly with both sweet and spicy dishes, as well as being insanely good on its own. I’m seeing this one as a MUST HAVE in my ‘summer sippers.’

This is a killer bargain too! Found it for under $11. Don’t walk, run to stock up on this one. You’ll find yourself reaching for it time and time again for nearly every occasion.

~CC

 
 

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Around the Wine World For Under $20: Australia’s Sweetheart of a Tawny

I admit it, I’ve been in a rather foul mood as of late. Too much studying, packing, working, and cleaning makes your Corked Cowgirl more of a surly She-Devil. Just a few days before I take a big wine exam and I’m stressing. So what do the stressed do to soothe their frazzled nerves and placate their out of control emotions?

They turn to dessert!

And that is EXACTLY what I’ve done this evening with a sweetheart of a dessert wine from down under. I found a HECK of a deal on a rather unorthodox Tawny port-styled wine from Rutherglen in Victoria, which is one of the southernmost areas of Australia. I figured, “Under $17 for a Tawny? I spend more than that when I take the kids to Dairy Queen. Momma needs her sweetness!” So, I picked it up and decided to pour.

Tonight’s value is RL Buller’s Victoria Tawny, a blend of Carina, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, and Shiraz, made into a fortified wine with a whopping 18% alcohol (yes my friends, I took no chances tonight with my mood…I plan on knocking out the nasties with this one).

In the glass, it’s a bright garnet color with a few orange tints to it. It certainly LOOKS like happiness in the glass to me. But my temperament cannot be placated with mere happy appearances. Nice smell to it as well…cherry, raspberry, and hints of what smells like…Grandma’s gingersnap cookies! Also smells like toffee. Okay, this is starting to get good. I could sniff this one all day. Makes me imagine Gram and Willy Wonka concocting the stuff of my childhood dreams right there in her kitchen.

I know, I know…what does it taste like?

Sweet, delicious goodness! Not what I would expect out of a TRADITIONAL Port, but then again, this isn’t a traditional Port. This has the bright cherry flavors, along with strawberry flavors. It still pulls off some of the tastes you’d expect out of a Tawny…toffee, maybe some fig on the finish. It’s berries and bread pudding all in one. You could pair it up with dark chocolate, chocolate mousse, fresh berries, and mild cheeses…the usual fare. OR…you could be daring and pair it up with pecan pie (which would be incredible together).

Me personally? I went off the deep end and decided to try it with my Kemp’s Blackberry Chocolate Ripple ice cream.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I introduce you to PURE BLISS! It matches PERFECTLY. Forget Calgon bubble bath, let the decadent flavors take you away in the most seductive dance your tongue will ever partake in.

Yes, you CAN buy happiness. It comes in a bottle of RL Buller Victoria Tawny…and you can get it for under $20.

What are you waiting for? Run to your happiness!

…I’m going to saunter off to the freezer to get seconds and pour another glass.

~CC

 
 

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Around the Wine World for $20 and Under: Welcome to Australia, Pt. 2

A couple of weeks ago I introduced you to the wonderful world of Australian wine with some incredible white wines that are a STEAL when you consider the quality. St. Hallett Winery in the Barossa Valley has some of the most delicious and versatile whites I’ve tried at a value that won’t put a whooping on your wallet.

Their reds are every bit as amazing. Valentine’s Day will come every single time you pour one of these wonderful wines…I guarantee, ‘liquid love.’

The first red on the list is the ‘Gamekeeper’s Reserve’. As senior winemaker Stewart Blackwell informed me, ‘if you’re going to have a Poacher (wonderful white blend), then you NEED to have a gamekeeper.’ And trust me, you NEED this red on hand ALWAYS.

This is a blend of Shiraz, Grenache, and a splash of Touriga Nacional, which is a traditional Portuguese variety. A color I like to refer to as ‘Lover Red’ splashes into the glass on the pour, with a slightly smoky, slightly cherry, and definitely rosy perfume on the nose. If you’re a fan of French wines, let me just say, this one is ‘Cote du Rhone on speed!’

Mouthwatering, juicy, strawberries and raspberries seduce the tongue with just a slight smoky taste on the finish. This one is a light one with very few tannins, so you don’t have to worry about that ‘sweater on the tongue’ feeling. Pinot Noir lovers will want to hug this sweetheart of a wine, and those that are shy about trying red wines will want to make this one their first. You could even chill this one like a rose and drink it during the summer months. Pair it up with a good bacon cheeseburger, roasted chicken, or even a steak. This is truly an every day wine! At $12.00, you’ll most DEFINITELY want to drink it every day!

Next on the list is the Gamekeeper’s Shiraz, made from 100% Shiraz grapes. This one sort of took me by surprise. Deep, inky, red color was pretty, but I took a whiff, and the only thing I could think of was that it smelled like a West Texas dust storm. There was a little hint of cocoa, but that dusty smell was a powerhouse. I was hesitant to take that sip, but when I did, GOOD GOD THAT’S GOT AWESOME FRUIT! I didn’t see it coming. It has the most amazing cherry, plum, and raspberry flavor with ribbons of smooth vanilla dancing in your mouth. This wine is like your Grandma’s homemade berry pie in liquid form. This may very well be my new favorite BBQ wine. The two together are most definitely soul mates. This wine could be paired with most anything, but I’m telling you right now, this is the wine to go to for burnt ends and short ribs. At $15.00, I’m going to be doing barbecuing a WHOLE lot more.

Finally, I jumped into the St Hallett Faith Shiraz, another wine made of 100% Shiraz grapes, but a whole different personality than the Gamekeeper’s Shiraz. Referred to by Stewart as a ‘young’ Shiraz (from 50 year old vines), it looks like a jewel in the glass with its purplish-garnet color.

I almost couldn’t take my nose out of the glass, it smelled like heaven. The most intoxicating aromas of cocoa and raspberry were almost hypnotic…yes, it’s THAT good…and the taste lives up to the reviews from your nose, with the most delicious cocoa streak running over a sea of raspberry and a cherry slide into the finish.

This wine would be perfect with pizza or pasta….in fact it would be GREAT on spaghetti night, but I say grab your favorite chocolate and indulge yourself. It’s okay, at $15.00 you can definitely pamper yourself.

Again, a big thank you to Stewart Blackwell for the delightful conversation and the most delicious introduction to the wines of St Hallett. I couldn’t have enjoyed it more…and at this value, you’ll be enjoying them for a long time to come as well.

Cheers!

CC

 

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Around the Wine World for $20 and Less: Welcome to Australia!

As promised, I am kicking off my ‘world tour’ in finding wonderfully inexpensive deals on REALLY good wine. Our first stop is Australia, where I will drown you in a whole host of tastes from down under…all without breaking the bank.

When you think of Australia, most often you’ll think of those big, fruity Shiraz blends, as there are a ton of them being produced. The hard part is to know which ones to pick. You’ll also be pleasantly surprised to find some really good white wines and dessert wines there as well.

I managed to stumble quite luckily on to a winery that happens to make some INCREDIBLE reds AND whites…and they’re a BARGAIN!

So, let’s introduce you to Australia with a trip to Barossa in South Australia with the wines of St Hallett Winery.

I had the good fortune of meeting Stuart Blackwell, senior winemaker at St Hallett at my favorite ‘wine haunt’ in the Kansas City area: Wine Flights in Leawood, KS. Stuart was promoting the ‘old vine’ Shiraz grown in Barossa Valley that has earned the winery some serious acclaim, as well as the delicious whites from just up the road in Eden Valley.

The first wine was a ‘whimsical’ white called “Poacher’s Blend”, a blend of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Reisling, that got it’s name because Stuart originally STOLE THE GRAPES! Stuart is a bit of a heathen…and a bit of a kindred spirit.

Back to the wine: this one is the perfect party wine! Doesn’t matter if you’ve got friends that like sweet wines and friends that like dry whites…they will ALL love this semi-dry darling. Pale straw color, tropical fruit on the nose, and luscious melon, lime, ripe mango, and pineapple on the tongue. It’s not a thick, heavy wine. It’s light, refreshing, and low in alcohol so you can drink this one all night long! If you decide not to just drink the whole thing by itself, and NEED to eat something, I’d pair it up with seafood…crab in particular…but any light fish or shrimp would be good. Actually, I’d probably pair it up with spicy Thai food. The sweet, light taste would balance out the fire of the spice. Best part of this wine? It’ll only set you back $11-12. Stock up!

The second white I tried was the 2009 Eden Valley Riesling. Let me warn you right now…this is NOT a SWEET Riesling like you’d find out of Germany. It’s drier, but wonderfully refreshing and unlike any other Riesling you will ever try. This one has a pale straw color as well, but the nose is going to knock you for a loop. Strong scent of lime and…well, rocks. Wet rocks. And it’s the same thing when you take that first sip…shocking minerality and a HUGE punch of lime. It’s like putting a rock in one cheek and half a fresh lime in the other, and mixing it up. I know that doesn’t sound terribly good, but for whatever reason, it’s FANTASTIC! Pair it up with fresh oysters or, much like the other, with shellfish or even Pad Thai. This would totally rock with Pad Thai! Also like the ‘Poacher’s Blend’, this one won’t break the bank either. Expect to pay around $15.

For more info on Poacher’s Blend, check out Stuart in this video: http://thecellarkey.com/sthallett/poachers/

Or, for a more laid-back, Corked Cowgirl type of approach, watch my interview with Stuart himself on my YouTube channel:

Next up: the Amazing Reds of St Hallett as we continue our ‘walkabout’ in Australia for $20 and under.

Cheers!

CC

 
 

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This Bird is of a Different Feather: 2010 Little Penguin Pinot Noir

The only good thing about this week is that I have a wine glass full of the sweet, alcoholic nectar made by my newest, bestest friends in the entire world…the winemakers.

Yes, I realize it’s only Monday, but it already feels like an ETERNITY of Mondays have slipped the proverbial doom and gloom noose around my neck and are threatening to let me drop at any moment.

I figured the best way to make the world go away was to uncork the bottle and empty it, one delicious glass at a time. It certainly beats throwing in a full box of Calgon bubble bath and screaming, “Take me away, dammit!!!” (Do they even MAKE Calgon anymore? Did I just inadvertently date myself and will need to drink more to forget my blunder?)

At any rate, I wanted cheap and easy…and cute…but I didn’t want the trouble of a ‘date’, so I grabbed a $4.99 bottle of 2010 Little Penguin Pinot Noir from SouthEastern Australia. Australia isn’t exactly known for their Pinots…they’re known for big, jammy Shiraz, but I thought, ‘What the heck? We’re getting close to the holidays, I need to find a lovely little Pinot to go with turkey and cranberries, plus, my family will be celebrating with me…I need mass quantities of cheap wine that will not taste like the swill my mother pours out of the box.”

It’s a little darker in the glass than I would have expected from a Pinot Noir- dark garnet in color- which is a little concerning, but the nose is pretty heavenly. Strawberries…not necessarily like fresh strawberries…something sweeter, but definitely profuse aromas of strawberry. Okay, the smell definitely balanced out the questionable dark color of the wine. I could smell this glass all day long.

The taste left me a little flat, however.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad taste. It’s just not the taste of a Pinot Noir. It’s also not anything terribly special to take me away to that far away, exotic place I was longing for in my mind after being bombarded by the slave drivers I affectionately call my family all day long.

Upon first sip, you drown in fruit. That same sweet strawberry you couldn’t get enough of on the nose is there putting a death grip on your tongue. There might be the slightest hint of vanilla in there, but it gets body slammed by more strawberry. Fruit bomb…that’s what I would call this. None of the nuances or complexity you’d look for in a Pinot Noir. On the finish, it goes from sweet to almost a little sour. Believe it or not, it doesn’t take away from the wine. Everything is balanced and all…no pucker factor, no oversweet cloying effect. It’s balanced…it’s just…lacking something. The finish doesn’t last long. You get that quick hint of sour, and then everything just sort of disappears. No lingering finish whatsoever.

Definitely not a favorite Pinot Noir.

With that said though, it’s not a bad little wine, ESPECIALLY when you’re picking it up under $5. It’s an easy sipper, perfect to stock up on and serve when you just want something quick and easy sitting on the deck, or hanging out for movie night. If you’re going to pair it with food, I’d recommend pairing it with the same types of stuff you’d pair with a Shiraz. Don’t pair it with salmon or fish or any of the stuff you’d match up with a Pinot Noir. Think bbq sauce with this one..or even venison…something to offset the big fruit in this wine.

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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