And I Can Cook, Too

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

May 5, 2007

I Want Some Wine

I’d done a little improv since my arrival, and had received an email from a complete stranger who remembered meeting me but of whom I had no memory inviting me to spend a day touring the McClaren Vale wine region. What the hell, I thought, a day a drinking with a perfect stranger, why not? With absolutely no idea who was driving, I stood outside my front gate and waited for a red hatch back to pick me up. The hatchback arrived, and behind the wheel was Tracy, who at what was apparently my second glance was somewhat familiar. “Right!” she said, “where have you been in South Australia?” Alarmed at my admission that I’d been only to Adelaide, Larg’s, Semaphore, the Barossa, and the Barr Smith Library, she decided to take the scenic route to McClaren Vale. We drove through Elizabeth and Glanville, Brighton and Glenelg, and after a lovely hour of stunning scenic beaches, were on our way to McClaren Vale. The area is home to wines known by all (Rosemount), wines known by me (Shirvington), and wines known by those in South Australia to be world class. We started at Simon Hacket. The cellar door (tasting room), was filled with the artwork of the owners daughter, and there was at least one piece on the wall that, in a previous life, would have been mine. We tasted everything from the Riesling to the Grenache, and I picked up a couple of bottles of Shiraz Ligonier to enjoy later in the week. We then proceeded to Paxton, one of the areas more popular wineries. The AAA Shiraz Grenache and the ’03 Shiraz both made me swoon, and I added a couple of those to my collection. We were off to Chapel Hill, where the Verdehlo was lovely but not worth writing home about, which is precisely why I’m writing home about it. We then stopped off at d’Arenburg, home to previously enjoyed exports like The Stump Jump and Dry Dam Riesling. My intention had been to pick up a couple of each at cellar door prices, but then I saw a tasting menu that included a 100% Mourvedre and an Ironstone Pressings GSM. Commenting to Tracy that I was making a mistake I’d be paying for at 18% interest, I picked up a bottle of each. Tracy, insisting that she was enjoyed playing chauffer for the day, determined that we should try to hit as many more wineries as we could before closing time. We raced through Gemtree & Dowie (absolutely lovely Candenzia, [a blend of Grenache, Tempranillo, and Shiraz – a fabulous table wine at a great price] and a surprisingly divine Chenin Blanc), Coriole Vineyards (Old Barn Shiraz Cabernet that did, in fact, taste like an old barn, whether or not that’s a good thing is subject to debate), and through to Red Dot, where the Old Vine Grenache made me cry “I love you” several times over. As we were heading out of the valley, we noticed a cellar door at the top of a small hill. Leconfield Wines, the sign said. Neither Tracy nor I had heard of it. It was 15 minutes till closing, and we decided to give it a try. We walked in the door of the beautifully decorated tasting room/mini museum, and there he was: Hunky Joe Wine Guy. Although I’d been shockingly responsible with my tasting (after all, now that I had a friend with a car I didn’t want to lose her), I’d been shockingly responsible about 37 times, and while in full control of my faculties I was feeling no pain. “How you going?” the cute wine guy said, “What would you like to taste today?” “Hello cute wine guy!” I replied, and if Tracy had had any wine in her mouth it would have come out through her nose, “I’d like something that will blow my socks off!” He leaned in, placing his elbows on the counter and his cute head in his hands. “Can you be a little more specific?” I leaned over the counter. “I’ve spent my day loving the Grenache.” I replied. “Great!” he said, “Now I know exactly what to do.” As he poured a 2006 Richard Hamilton Grenache, a 2003 RH Marion Grenache, and an overwhelmingly good (and surprising) 2004 Sparkling Shiraz, we chatted about the McClaren Vale, the differences between the 2002 and 2003 Shiraz, and whether or not Robert Parker deserved a) the flack he gets for being the single most influential person in the international wine market or, b) his job. Finally, Tracy coughed, and I realized that the sun was going down and it was time to leave. I purchased a few bottles of wine and we were on our way. I didn’t get his name. Or his number. So maybe my flirt’s not yet totally on. Then again, I did get a free bottle of 2004 Richard Hamilton Centurion Shiraz, so you be the judge.

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