Wednesday, July 06, 2005

2003 Vintage Coonawarra Majella Sparkling Shiraz

Archive Alert! On this day in 2004 we were in Paris where we ate lunch at Cafe du Commerce and then later had dinner at Pizza La Gioconda.

It's a Wednesday, and not just any Wednesday. It's Wine Blogging Wednesday #11 hosted by Beau from Basic Juice. The theme this month is any off dry red. I admit this was a little bit confusing to me, I am not sure I was quite ready for advanced wine tasting, but I am not one to run away from a challenge so I decided to have a stab at it. Since Beau metioned Shiraz amongst the list of acceptable wines for this assignment, I decided it was a great time to try one of the wines I had read about in an intriguing San Francisco Chronicle article about sparkling reds.

photograph picture of 2003 Vintage Coonawarra Majella Sparkling, bottle fermented Shiraz 2003 Vintage Coonawarra Majella Sparkling, bottle fermented Shiraz. I bought the last bottle at K&L for $25.
Majella wines are made by the Lynn family who established a vineyard on thier Majella property in Coonawarra, Australia over thirty years ago. You can read their own tasting notes for the 2002 vintage here

The other evening I nonchalantly asked Fred if he would like a glass of red wine to which he replied in the affirmative. I snuck to the fridge and quietly cracked open my bottle of Sparkling Shiraz. I chose to pour it into my two new champagne glasses, given to me by a dear friend for my recent birthday. These beautiful glasses are hand made, artisnal and not as fine as a regular flute so I thought they would suit a sparkling red quite well.

I shuffled across the room, handed Fred his glass before retreating back to the kitchen to watch his reaction from afar. He took a puzzled look at the glasses. I knew what he was thinking. Why is she serving red wine in champagne glasses? He lifted the glass and took a sip. Blech, what's that?! he exclaimed. It's crap. It's a red wine with Perrier inside. I wouldn't drink that the whole night, I tell you - it's going to give you a headache!

Being English, not French, being Sam and not Fred, I try to remain a little bit open minded about new-fangled eating and drinking ideas. My initial reaction was one of surprise too, but once I got over the initial shock, I started to grow quite fond of this startling wine.

The first thing I noticed when I popped the cork was the berry, fruity aroma exploding out from the bottle. The nose is ripe and fresh, elderberry-scented with a tinge of burnt caramel. After a slight breathing further aromas of anise and black pepper started to appear.

Nothing quite prepares you for the shock of encountering bubbles in a red wine when you take your first sip, particularly because they are small and barely visible in the deep claret-coloured liquid. Think of a bounty of dark, ripe berries that have been made into a jam sweetened only by the fruit itself and you will be close the flavour of this wine. Somehow it is easy to drink once you have overcome any initial prejudices. Shiraz would be low on my list of red choices under normal circumstances, but the bubbles, somehow, seem to make it more quaffable. If it wasn't so pricey, I think I would drink it more often, especially since I think I might get the whole bottle all to myself...

PS. This review was a

Beau has already started his "Off Dry" roundup. You can track it, as it develops, here.

Other online articles that reference Sparkling Reds:
Wine of The Week - West Coast Wine Net - The Wine Board - The Adelaide Review - BootsnAll Travel

posted in and and and and
2003 Vintage Coonawarra Majella Sparkling Shiraz


  • At 6/7/05 08:16, Blogger eat stuff said…

    Yep they are definately full of berries! and they are not like a "normal" red wine at all. I think that they are much sweeter and cold is very suprising at first, especially since they are so different to other Australian shiraz's (it is a very beloved wine here).
    Well I am glad that you didn't hate it..... but if you drink too many bottles of it by your self you will end up rather pished I'm sure... as I get very tipsy from it.

  • At 6/7/05 18:20, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sparkling Shiraz is the wine we serve with the turkey at our Christmas Day lunch....every year since I discovered the wine/food match.

  • At 6/7/05 23:23, Blogger Niki said…

    Sprakling Shiraz is such an Aussie taste. It's perfect in Summer sitting on the verandah in the twilight after a hot day, and I think Barbara's idea of having it with the Christmas turkey sounds so perfect I'm going to try it this year.
    Regular shiraz is my favourite red wine. I find few others varieties can match the intensity and vibrancy it has. Of the big three we produce in Australia Cab Sauv is often too aggressive and merlot is too subtle, so that leaves me developing a love for our shiraz.

  • At 29/8/05 13:59, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I want to know where I can get Sparkling Shiraz in the US. More specifically in Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex of Texas, or at least order it online!


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