The brunch was outstanding. The spurgles were ... educational. Frankly, they weren't all impressive, or perhaps red sparkling wine is an acquired taste that I have yet to acquire. Still, at their best they were very good, and all but a few were at least interesting.
L. Mawby non-vintage Leelanau Peninsula Michigan Red Sparkling Wine - Dark garnet with lasting bubbles. Perfumed red fruit. Light, fresh and crisp. (50% Pinot Noir, 40% Marechal Foch, 5% De Chaunac, 5% Cascade)
Flight One - "Other" Varietals:
Capercaillie 1996 Hunter and Hastings Valleys Sparkling Chambourcin ($17) - Dark ruby. Grapey. Frothy, simple, tart-sweet. My score: 70/100 (eighth); group: 84 points (tied for fourth).
Mount Pleasant 1992 Hunter Valley Sparkling Pinot Noir ($13) - Dark ruby. Sulfury, bubble-gum. My score: 55/100 (eleventh); group: 83 points (tied for tenth).
Brands 1996 Coonawarra Sparkling Cabernet Sauvignon ($15) - Inky dark reddish-purple. Pleasant cranberry aroma. Less attractive on the palate, green-bean vegetal. My score: 75/100 (tied for sixth); group: 83 points (tied for tenth).
Tatachilla non-vintage Padthaway Sparkling Malbec ($10) - Opaque, black, persistent frothy mousse. Ripe black fruit and anise. Grapey, candied fruit. My score: 65/100 (ninth); group: 84 points (tied for fourth).
Flight Two - Blends:
Stephen John non-vintage Clare Valley Sparkling Burgundy Traugott Cuvee ($16) - Dark plum color. Grapey fruit and a whiff of vinegar. Juicy fruit flavor, tart and quite bitter. My score: 57/100 (tenth); group: 81 points (twelfth).
Hippocrene non-vintage Polish Hill Region Clare Valley Bin 93 ($15) - Very dark garnet. Plums and raisins, warm fruit. Good blackberry fruit, off-dry, balanced and fresh. Best so far. My score: 87/100 (second); group: 87 points (third).
Fox Creek non-vintage McLaren Vale "Vixen" Sparkling Shiraz Cabernets ($20) - Blackish-purple. Yeasty, bread-dough, raisins. Odd scorchy burnt-toast quality. Doesn't smell like wine, doesn't taste like wine. My score: 49/100 (twelfth); group: 84 points (tied for fourth).
Geyser Peak 1994 Alexander Valley (California) Sparkling Shiraz-Cabernet ($30) - Inky dark purple. Fresh, ripe and simple but appealing black fruit. Juicy, sweet, simple and fresh. My score: 82/100 (tied for fourth); group: 84 points (tied for fourth).
Flight Three - Shiraz:
Morris non-vintage Mia Mia Vineyard Rutherglen Victoria Sparkling Shiraz-Durif ($13) - Dark garnet. Plummy, light mint. Good juicy fruit flavor, crisp and balanced, a whiff of oak. My score: 84/100 (third); group: 84 points (tied for fourth).
Peter Rumball non-vintage South Eastern Australia Sparkling Shiraz Special Cuvee ($20) - Very dark reddish-purple. Plummy, perfumed and aromatic ... Incense? ... appealing at first but becomes increasingly oaky in the glass. Sweet fruit and aromatic oak; intriguing, bears a startling resemblance to Vernor's Ginger Ale. My score: 82/100 (tied for fourth); group: 84 points (tied for fourth).
Seppelt 1987 Great Western Vineyard Victoria Show Sparkling Shiraz ($40) - Blackish-purple. Amazing aromas, full and ripe, tropical fruit, olives and something pleasantly evocative of a summer salad, cucumbers and fresh tomatoes. Intriguing on the palate, less so on the palate, wild mushrooms. Better at first, falls apart in the glass. My score: 75/100 (tied for sixth); group: 88 points (second).
Tanunda non-vintage Barossa Valley Rockford Black Shiraz ($50) - Inky dark garnet. Jammy, peppery and oaky. Big and full, chewy black fruit and oak, a "Parkerized" Oz Shiraz ... with bubbles. My top wine of the tasting. My score: 90/100 (first); group: 91 points (first).
E-mail me your tasting notes,
and I'll consider adding them to this page.