Tour the world of wine with Robin Garr in 2004
New Zealand tour with Wine & Food Trails, Feb. 3-12, 2004

Burgundy and Champagne tour with French Wine Explorers, May 24-30, 2004

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In This Issue
 Two from the South
 Thorn-Clarke 2002 "Shotfire Ridge" Barossa Cuvee ($15.49)
 Graham Beck 2002 Western Cape "Pinno" Pinotage ($9.99)
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Two from the South

Let's take a quick trip South of the Equator today for tasting reports on two interesting reds.

Thorn-Clarke 2002 Shotfire Ridge Barossa Cuvee is an Australian blend of Bordeaux-style varieties from a producer whose Shiraz has earned a reputation for exceptional value. Add the Barossa Cuvee to that category, provided you like your reds in the big, in-your-face Australian style.

Want a benchmark example of South Africa's signature Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and the less sought-after Cinsaut grape? You'll find it in an affordable package with Graham Beck 2002 "Pinno", from a producer who's fairly well-known in the U.K. but just starting to turn up in scattered parts of the U.S.

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Thorn-Clarke Thorn-Clarke 2002 "Shotfire Ridge" Barossa Cuvee ($15.49)

Very dark reddish-purple in color, this robust Australian red breathes blackcurrant and blueberry scents that signal its Bordeaux varieties, along with menthol, eucalyptus and spice aromatics that could just about pass for a Shiraz. It's big, tart and tannic in flavor; juicy black fruit is built on a firm acidic structure backed by puckery tannins. Full fruit carries it over the wall of tannins, but it's a high jump. Needs food to tame it, or a year or two of cellar time. U.S. importer: Kysela Pere et Fils Ltd., Winchester, Va. (Dec. 3, 2003)

FOOD MATCH: Red meat is called for; it might be a bit much for unadorned poultry, although a hearty chicken pilaf with plenty of green peppers and onions came up to meet it.

VALUE: Fair price judged against international competition; well below the price median for Australian reds in this big, "blockbuster" style.

WHEN TO DRINK: As noted, a year or two of cellar time will serve it well.

WEB LINK: Thorn-Clarke is online here:

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: Find a source for Graham Beck's Pinotages at

Graham Beck Graham Beck 2002 Western Cape "Pinno" Pinotage ($9.99)

Clear dark garnet with reddish-purple glints. Plummy aromas with a distinct earthy character, the "paintbox" scent of dried watercolors that's often used to describe Pinotage. The aromas carry over in the flavor, juicy red fruits and tart acidity backed by a pleasant earthiness that mixes "paintbox" and a whiff of black rubber. Closed with a black synthetic cork. U.S. importer: Robant LLC, Lexington, Ky., and other regional importers. (Dec. 2, 2003)

FOOD MATCH: Particularly good with ham, which seems to bring the wine into better balance by showcasing its red-fruit flavors.

VALUE: Good value.

WHEN TO DRINK: Should keep on the wine rack for a year or two, but I don't see it as a candidate for cellaring.

WEB LINK: To visit the Graham Beck Website, click to:

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: Find a source for Graham Beck's Pinotages at


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Friday, Dec. 5, 2003
Copyright 2003 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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