WTN /WineAdvisor: Shiraz ... with bubbles! (Shingleback "Black Bubbles")

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WTN /WineAdvisor: Shiraz ... with bubbles! (Shingleback "Black Bubbles")

Postby Robin Garr » Fri Jun 01, 2007 12:19 pm

Shiraz ... with bubbles!

Mention "sparkling Shiraz" outside Australia, particularly in the U.S., and chances are you'll inspire a facial expression that falls somewhere between disdain and disgust.

Red sparkling wine is a mighty hard sell for wine enthusiasts on this side of the water, probably because the concept brings back memories of "Cold Duck," the cheap, super-sweet sparkling red that we used to swill back in the '70s, before we knew any better.

Frankly, Australia's wine producers haven't done much to ameliorate that impression, as much of the smallish amount of sparkling Shiraz they send this way is cheap, sweet and industrially produced ... no real stylistic advance beyond Cold Duck.

But it doesn't have to be that way. Australia, which has made the noble Syrah grape of the Rhone Valley into its own trademark red wine with the Antipodean synonym "Shiraz," makes some mighty classy bubbly out of the grape. It's thoroughly popular Down Under, where the upside-down seasons make it a summer treat, an Ozzie tradition on the typically hot and steamy Australian Christmas Day.

I had my moment of epiphany several years ago with a taste of Rockford Black, perhaps Australia's most respected sparkling Shiraz, a limited-production beauty so much in demand at home that it's seldom exported. It commands a price in the $70 range on the rare occasions when a little turns up in the U.S.

A few fairly unhappy encounters with cheaper stuff had pretty much put me off the genre until just the other day, when I took a random shot at a new arrival and ... wow! <b>Shingleback "Black Bubbles</b>," a non-vintage Shiraz sparkler from South Australia's pretty McLaren Vale region south of Adelaide, is a very serious sparkling wine <i>and</i> a very serious Shiraz, showing real depth of flavor and character with Champagne-style bubbles added. Although its technical specifications suggest a medium off-dry wine, its carbonation and snappy acidity mask the 26.5 g/l residual sugar to present a flavor impression that's close to dry.

Forget those awful Cold Duck memories: This one's worth a try.

<table border="0" align="right" width="190"><tr><td><img src="http://www.wineloverspage.com/graphics1/shin0530.jpg" border="1" align="right"></td></tr></table>Shingleback McLaren Vale "Black Bubbles" Sparkling Shiraz ($21.99)

Inky dark purple, pours up with a frothy pink mousse; bubbles are lasting, with the persistent, pinpoint quality I would expect of a fine, classically made sparkling wine. Good black-fruit aromas blend plums and berries. Mouth-filling and fresh, bubbles add a creamy texture on the palate. Fresh and appropriately tart; although its residual sugar maps to moderate sweetness, carbonation and acid balance present a "dry" flavor impression. As quality sparkling Shiraz should, it shows the flavor profile of a fine McLaren Vale red with bubbles added; and that's fun. U.S. importer: Precept Brands, Seattle. (May 30, 2007)

<B>FOOD MATCH:</b> Usually drunk as a refreshing aperitif or for casual party sipping, this fine Shiraz will pair with red meat, is recommended with chocolate desserts, and shows surprisingly well with spicy Asian fare. It was remarkably good with the offbeat, aromatic West Chinese cumin lamb featured in yesterday's <I>Wine Advisor FoodLetter</I>.

<B>VALUE:</B> It's competitively priced with quality non-vintage sparkling wines and mid-range Australian Shiraz in the same price range.

<B>WHEN TO DRINK:</B> It won't fade in the coming year, but it's not meant for cellaring. Enjoy it soon.

<B>WEB LINK:</B>
The back label provides a link to the producer's Website:
http://www.shingleback.com.au

<B>FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:</B>
Compare prices and find vendors for Shingleback sparkling Shiraz on Wine-Searcher.com:
[url=http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/Shingleback%2bSparkling%2bShiraz/-/-/USD/A?referring_site=WLP]http://www.wine-searcher.com/
find/Shingleback%2bSparkling%2bShiraz/-/-/USD/A?referring_site=WLP[/url]

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Robin Garr
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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Shiraz ... with bubbles! (Shingleback "Black Bubbles")

Postby Tony Willett » Sat Jun 02, 2007 12:24 am

Enjoyed your article re red spakling wines, Robin. Wife and self toured a number of South Australian wineries, November 2006.
Image
Our most memorable day was tasting a flight of 4 wines at Primo Estate in the McLaren Vale Region, which included their magnificent Joseph Sparkling Red. I am not the only one to exclaim after tasting that it is, "nothing like any wine I have previousy lasted". It is only available in small quantities and most likely does not make it across to USA shores. However if anybody is visiting Aus, they will certainly be rewarded if they seek it out. Noted Australian wine commentator, James Haliday gave it 95 points in his "Top 100 Wines" article in Nov 2006.
http://www.boccaccio.com.au/category18_1.htm
http://www.winehouse.com.au/ShowWines.asp?pID=18183
Not always able to comment on articles Robin, but keep up the good work. Read everyone.
Tony Willett
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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Shiraz ... with bubbles! (Shingleback "Black Bubbles")

Postby Robin Garr » Sat Jun 02, 2007 7:50 am

Tony, thanks for the report, and a warm welcome to the forum! Feel free to post any time you're in the mood ...
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