MoCool Sunday "Spurgles" Brunch
"Spurgles," Australian slang for "sparkling Burgundies," were the topic of attention for the concluding event of MoCool 2000, a presentation of a dozen mostly Australian red sparkling wines, followed by a brunch arranged by Laura Kokkalis, the sales director of Polo Fields Country Club near Ann Arbor.


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).

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All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.

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