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Wine Advisor Express:
A classy Australian

Let's follow up on our recent inquiries into red varietal blends (Oct. 15) and Australian wines (Oct. 29) by pushing our usual budget limit just a little (hey, the holiday season is coming) to celebrate an exceptional Australian wine.

For those who favor the big, "blockbuster" style of wine, Barossa is a name to reckon with: This pretty valley not far north of Adelaide, with its strong 19th Century German immigrant heritage, produces benchmark examples of Australian reds. It was my great pleasure to visit Barossa last November, where I enjoyed an afternoon at Veritas winery with its wine maker, Rolf Binder, who later joined us at dinner in the village of Tanunda bearing more of his wines.

Veritas is a smallish producer, so its wines aren't easy to find; and frankly, their U.S. prices, driven by demand, push close to my "threshold of pain" for everyday consumption. But Binder consistently makes what I consider some of Barossa's best wines, reds that frame the big Barossa style with a touch of European elegance; and when I discovered a small stash of Veritas at a local shop recently, I couldn't resist coughing up 30 bucks for this sample, a Bordeaux-style blend of 65 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 35 percent Merlot:

Veritas Veritas 1999 Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot ($29.99)
Very dark ruby, opaque at the center, this hearty Australian red offers delicious aromas of chocolate-covered cherries and deep black fruit. Minty and full on the palate, "sweet" black-fruit flavors are backed by fresh acidity and dry tannins, strong and warm in the finish. Although the label indicates only 12.5% alcohol, it feels like a stronger wine. It's built to last, but drinking very well now, especially with rare red meat. U.S. importer: This bottle was brought in by The Grateful Palate, Oxnard, Calif., but Veritas is now marketed in the U.S. by Garagiste of Seattle. (Oct. 29, 2001).

FOOD MATCH: Fine with pan-grilled lamb steaks, enhanced with an earthy Friuli potato-and-onion dish on the side.

WEB LINKS: The Garagiste Website is at, which offers world-wide sales and shipping including U.S. states where permitted by law. The Grateful Palate, which sells food specialty items and wine (where legally permitted) online, is at My tasting report, with a few photos, from last year's Barossa visit is at

Wine Toon Calendar 2002:
A year of wine and laughter

Here's a way to please yourself and friends with a wine-related holiday "stocking stuffer" and support at the same time: You can't go wrong with our new Wine Toon Calendar! This monthly wall calendar, exclusive from, contains a chuckle-worthy collection of cartoonist Chuck Stoudt's zany wine 'toons ... plus dozens of favorite wine quotes for every season, AND more than 100 highlighted Wine Web Links, two every week!

Buy one for your wine cellar and another for your office ... and they make great gifts! Offer them in your wine store, your catalog, or your wine club (contact us by E-mail for information about wholesale prices for re-selling).

While supplies last, order the Wine Toon Calendar at It's only $11.99 (plus $2 shipping and handling for U.S. shipments, $4 for all other countries). Buy one for yourself, and more for your wine-loving friends, and you'll be all set for holiday giving.

And don't forget: Your purchase helps support and The 30 Second Wine Advisor!

This is Wine Advisor Express, daily edition of The 30 Second Wine Advisor, distributed Tuesdays through Fridays. For archives of previous articles, and to read more about wine, visit Wine Lovers' Page,

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Friday, Nov. 2, 2001
Copyright 2001 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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