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Sparkling Shiraz


carswell
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Confession time: I'm a sparkling shiraz virgin. And I haven't enjoyed 98% of the shirazes I've tasted. But I've come into possession of a bottle of Hardys non-vintage and it prompts some questions, to wit:

Which sparkling shirazes are considered models of the genre? Is there a region that stands out? I assume the Hardys is run-of-the-mill stuff; is that right?

When, in the sense of at what age, is the best time to drink sparkling shirazes? Is the aging curve anything like that for regular shirazes or champagne?

Where? Are these wines for festive occasions? For drinking outdoors (i.e. picnic and barbecue wines)? Do they have a place at the dinner table? At a fancy dinner table?

How? Which temperature should the wine be served at? What kind of glass should it drunk from — a standard red "Bordeaux" glass, a "Burgundy" balloon, a flute, a standard white wine glass? (It's shocking but true: there is no Riedel sparkling shiraz glass!)

Why? Getting into subjective territory here but... Why bother drinking sparkling shiraz? Is it more than a curiosity?

And another which for you. Which foods go best with sparkling shiraz? For the Hardys sparkler, I've been toying with the idea of a rich, mildly spiced lamb curry like a roghan josh or maybe a dish involving pesto rosso, a rough purée of sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, garlic, herbs, dried chiles and olive oil. Would the wine work with either of those?

TYVM!

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Confession time: I'm a sparkling shiraz virgin,

I think that may describe a large number of the folks on this forum.

And I haven't enjoyed 98% of the shirazes I've tasted.

And this one come close to describing me. :laugh:

I'll cut to the chase with the rest of your questions. Serve chilled (same temp as any sparkling wine) in the stem you'd normally serve sparkling wine. Serve with whatever you'd serve with a rose wine as a very general rule (or serve it with nothing at all).

But my guess is after you have this one, you won't be racing to buy another.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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Wait, there are sparkling Shirazes? (Shirazii?) Must admit, I love the stuff in non-carbonated form, maybe because I philosopically incline toward the big, blowsy and straightforward in other things, too. But this is entirely new to me. Can't argue with the following serving suggestion here, though: "Once called 'Sparkling Burgundy', this style of fizzy red is uniquely Australian. One of life's greatest gastronomic experiences is to pair this wine with mushrooms, bacon, eggs and black sausage for breakfast." Got to love the Aussies. "You can stuff your shonky chablis and oysters up your clacker for starters, mate. Bloody oath, that plonk's as dry as a nun's nasty." :biggrin:

"Mine goes off like a rocket." -- Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, Feb. 16.

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Please take this in the friendliest way possible, but I can't answer the "why?" and thus all the other questions seem moot. I suppose it qualifies as a curioisty. I read the post. I've never seen it though and was curious where one might have run across this. My guess is that it's all consumed in Australia. Perhaps that's my hope.

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Yep sparkling shiraz has been a unique style developed in Australia in the late 20's by Seppelts - a major player in both Victoria (dessert wines like Tokay and Muscat - Parker and straight and sparkling shiraz from Great Western in coolish climate cental Victoria) and in the Barossa. Used to be a family concern but about 20 years ago taken over by Penfolds.

I know it sounds a bit weird but as you know shiraz is the staple grape in oz and on hot summer days the big shiraz reds just were a turn off. While there are many commercial overly sweet sparkling shiraz made, if you can please get a hold of a vintage Seppelts show sparkling shiraz- you will be amazed at the complexity and subtlety. About 5 years ago I had a 1943 Seppelts Sp Shiraz that was in perfect condition - still a slight mousse but what mushroomy complexity.

Here in Sydney this type of wine is often drunk on chistmas day with turkey - when it s 90 - 100F outside or on picnics in summer etc. For the top quality sp shiraz please don't overchill as you will lose all the aromatic complexity and the red tannins will poke out and unbalance the wine. It's also nice with chinese food , particulalrly duck which needs something rich and fairly full -bodied.

Hard's haven't a bad reputation with sp. shiraz although can be a bit sweet.

Here I think is a review of the wine and what to have it with.

http://www.wineloverspage.com/wines/wt080998.shtml

Please have read here of some of the better quality Seppelt Sp Shiraz, I have been told they are available in the US.

http://www.seppelt.com.au/wines/shiraz.html

Cheers

Paul

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I've heard tell of this oddity. but not had the chance to have any cross my path yet. But I confess I'm intrigued.

What brands of sparling shiraz are readily available in the US? What's the price point?

Katie M. Loeb
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Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

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Fox Creek exports one, and it runs in the mid- to upper-teens price wise for the NV wines. Yalumba's vintage versions command over $30.

I've had two of these in my life (didn't take notes, can't remember the producer). I don't plan on seeking out any others.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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I was recently served a glass of the Fox Creek Vixen Sparkling Shiraz from Mclaren Vale, Australia as the wine paired with the dessert course in our most recent dinner at Manresa Restaurant, Los Gatos, California.

Before this, I had never had any kind of sparkling Shiraz. It was, surprisingly, very good.

Anybody knows where I can buy this wine here in Northern California?

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A sparkling mildly tannic heavy red wine with some residual sugar - ick. Sparkling Shiraz serves roughly the same purpose in Australia as White Zinfandel does in the US. It's really not worth seeking out.

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A sparkling mildly tannic heavy red wine with some residual sugar - ick. Sparkling Shiraz serves roughly the same purpose in Australia as White Zinfandel does in the US. It's really not worth seeking out.

Melkor, were you also served the Vixen at Manresa?

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Confession time: I'm a sparkling shiraz virgin. And I haven't enjoyed 98% of the shirazes I've tasted. But I've come into possession of a bottle of Hardys non-vintage and it prompts some questions, to wit:

I've been drinking Elderton NV (about $50 Cdn from Calgary, not available in Quebec). The folks at Kensington have been suggesting that it be served about 16-18ºC, but I've also chilled it and watched the stuff evolve as it comes up to room temperature.

Definitely sweet, and quite noticeably so if you drink it alongside Elderton's Command Shiraz, but it's a decided improvement over the Asti's that several people have been using to poison me. My Bordelais pals think it's a freakish conversation piece, though they did continue to drink it. :rolleyes:

Food? Good question - I've never paired it with anything.

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A sparkling mildly tannic heavy red wine with some residual sugar - ick. Sparkling Shiraz serves roughly the same purpose in Australia as White Zinfandel does in the US. It's really not worth seeking out.

I haven't tried a sparkling Shiraz yet though it sounds interesting and I hope to seek some out after seeing this thread. It sounds (from here and checking out the Seppelts link) that this wine has a bit more to it than just being a novelty. I guess I just take offense in general to bashing a product without giving it a fair chance but hell, my wife likes to have a white zin now and then out in the back yard so I even have to keep a couple of those around the house. Of course in NorCal Korbel makes a Merlot sparkler and Frank Family Vineyards makes a deep red Pinot Noir one.

Charles a food and wine addict - "Just as magic can be black or white, so can addictions be good, bad or neither. As long as a habit enslaves it makes the grade, it need not be sinful as well." - Victor Mollo

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I had a glass of white zin the other day because that's what my friend likes and it's her house. When she's at my house, she gets the snootier wines :biggrin:

I'll try anything once and this Sparkling Shiraz certainly is going on my list of things to quaff.

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i liked the vixen actually. i gave it to my trendy friends for christmas last year. (it might be the white zin of australia - but no one around here's ever seen it before). They've all liked it so far too - lot's of "light, refreshing, enjoyed the new taste" type of comments.

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Another vote for Fox Creek's Vixen. It's been a while since I had it -- NYCers can try it by the glass at the Broadway outpost of Morrell's wine bar -- but I don't recall it being sweet. I've also had sparkling shiraz by the glass at Eight Mile Creek, but that was at least three years ago, so I've no idea if they still offer it.

Morrell's also offers Vixen by the bottle in their store, for $17.95.

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A sparkling mildly tannic heavy red wine with some residual sugar - ick. Sparkling Shiraz serves roughly the same purpose in Australia as White Zinfandel does in the US. It's really not worth seeking out.

Actually, that is an over-simplification. Yes, there are rubbish versions of Sparkling reds, but that is also true of all wine styles. Generic Californian Merlot anybody?

Sparkling reds in Australia seem to go through definate peaks and troughs, the latter generally being caused by an over supply of really nasty wine turns people away. But this doesn't mean that they are all bad wines (does the mid-90's glut of bad chardonnay mean that all chardonnay is terrible for instance). By and large though, sparkling reds seem to be favoured by wine makers and in some cases they can be terribly serious wines.

My preference is for dry styles. This often means 'old fashioned', but there are a few newer producers out their. The better types also age very well. In Australia (or Melbourne at least) it is still possible to buy 20 year old versions retail. Seppelt Show reserve sparkling shiraz (formally Burgundy) is the bench mark wine. On of the best wine with food matches I have had was a Christmas dinner the Turkey being matched with a 20 year old Seppelt Show reserve sparkling shiraz and compared to a 16 year old Bertani Amarone. The Amarone was good, but the sparkling shiraz was better, very complex a few bubbles for interest, one of those wines were you could simply smell and sip a single glass all day for pleasure.

As I said there are definate high and lows in this style of wine, I prefer older and dry wines, so I would suggest the Seppelt Show Reserve, Rockford Sparkling Shiraz, Balnave Sparkling Cab. blend and the Joseph Sparkling Red. The former two can definately be aged for at least 20 years.

For a simpler wine, I would try the Seppelt Sparkling Shiraz. I find the Vixen a little sweet for my tastes, but one wine I would avoid is the Banrock Station Sparkling red as it hurts my teeth.

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Carswell et al:

Have enjoyed this thread and am heartened that so many North Americans do not like sparkling shiraz....leaves more for me!

I enjoy it very much.

I see Wattacetti is from Calgary. Years ago I was down in Calgary and wanted a bottle of sparkling wine rather than champagne to celebrate an event.

Dave Osbaldiston at the Richmond Hills store [he was formerly with Bests Winery in Oz and the shop had and perhaps has, as I have not been to the SW corner of C-town for some time, the best variety of Australian wines likely in the country] recommended a bottle which he commented was, "a sparkling wine to be consumed with a steak".

It was a bottle of 1991 E. & E. Black Pepper Shiraz. Made from the same grapes as the still bottle of the same name.

I poured it and it came out all frothy and mauve. I thought, "Baby Duck?" and then sipped and tasted chocolate, leather, tannins...it was a "heavyweight" with bubbles.

It has aged gracefully like the still wines. I have a couple of bottles left but opened one about a year ago and it was delicious.

I love to serve it with barbequed ribs with a smokey maple glaze. The wine goes great with the smoke and sweetness of the sauce. It is worth the "price of admission" just to see the perplexed looks on folks' faces when they get the glass and no doubt expect, as I did it, sweet and simple and get big and complex.

More recently I have tried the Knappstein "Chainsaw" Sparkling Shiraz. It comes from the Clare Valley of Oz and is apparently so named because back in the '80's they "chainsawed" a vineyard of old shiraz rootstock and grafted chardonnay which they in turn "chainsawed" again in '96 re-grafting shiraz to the its original knarly roots.

It is less "big" than the E. & E. but more affordable.

I think if you really want to try sparkling shiraz you have to go up the scale a couple of knotches like Wattacetti has done to get the real taste.

Mind you, of course at that price point I can understand why someone might prefer the still wine to what others might consider the "novelty" of the sparkling.

If you do not like shiraz in the first place, I would not expect you would like the sparkling especially at the lower price levels.

The latter I think are great antipasti, barbequed chicken, cold cuts and picnic wines when you want something simple and refreshing but not cloying like the dreaded "white zinfandel". I use them where I might otherwise a chilled dry rose or off-dry fruity red like rotberger from Gray Monk in British Columbia.

As the Knappstein web-site says in part, a wine "to be quaffed enthusiastically, chilled, at all times of the year"

Cheers

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I have had sparkling shiraz on a few occasions (do not remember which ones) and enjoyed them. Of course I wasn't looking for an investment wine, and barely glanced at the label, but someone put it in my hand, and I thought it was deeply fruity, with all the shiraz plum and just a teeny bit of bacon that made it interesting. I think I've had them four times, and only one seemed sweet--the other three were dry with a smooth, creamy spritz. I also thought it was novel and I've made no attempt to track one down, but I've got it on my idea list for my "winter blues" party. :wink:

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I see Wattacetti is from Calgary.

Actually I'm in the Big Croissant (Montreal) but I buy virtually all of my interesting wine in Calgary (those darn Albertans with their low personal tax rates and deregulated provincial liquor system :rolleyes: ).

Richmond Hill Wines I know well (good source of Kiwi and Tasmanian Pinot Noir). Ditto Kensington, Metrovino and J. Webb.

I'm surprised you mentioned Baby Duck as well since that was the first thing that came to mind when I was shown the Elderton sparkling Shiraz. However, the first glass was all I needed to convince myself it wasn't. I'll see about tracking down the E&E sparkler; I've got a couple of their still Shiraz and am curious about a side-by-side comparison.

[aside: I still get a little twinge over Baby Duck and its shelfmate Cold Duck - big plastic stopppers and that awful cherry cough syrup color :shock: ]

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The only sparkling shiraz I've been able to find at LCBO is E&E Black Pepper, and it certainly lived up to its name, when I opened the '96 for the millenium.

I still have a couple, and prize them. The cost was about $24.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Finally convinced myself to pop the cork on the bottle of Hardys SS that was the impetus for this thread. The occasion was a dinner featuring the Marathi-style lamb shank from Atul Kochhar's new cookbook, Indian Essence, itself the subject of a thread on the Indian board.

While disorienting, the wine didn't quite provide the freakish experience I'd been fearing (and maybe secretly hoping for). We didn't gag on it. The bubbles took some getting used to, though anyone who's quaffed Lambrusco already has a head start. This bottle, which had been sitting in my cellar for three or four years and god knows how long at the LCBO before that, showed no sign of aging. Opaque black-red, it would have presented an imposing picture to the eye had it not been for the magenta pink foam. The nose was restrained, perhaps due to the chilling or maybe being served in a flute, but not without hints of textbook Shiraz aromas — plum, black cherry, pepper, earth. In the mouth, the wine was drier than I'd expected. Flavourwise, a bit monolithic, though the chilling, effervesence and acidity saved it from fruit bombast and flabbiness. The finish was less convincing, showing an odd disjuncture between the wine and the carbonation that had me thinking "shotgun marriage."

If the SS could stand up to the spicy lamb dish, neither complemented the other, and the side dish — a savoury and pretty fiery stew of potatoes and spinach — proved positively hostile to the wine, bringing out an otherwise unapparent medicinal taste. After a glass and a half each, we stoppered the wine, returned it to the fridge and flipped the lids on a couple of bottles of extra pale ale, a far more satisfying accompaniment. I revisited the SS the next day, when it found a better match — if not a marriage made in heaven — in a bowl of spaghetti dressed with pesto rosso, parmesan and chopped parsley. By the way, this time I drank the wine from a standard white wine glass, which I preferred to the flute.

Will keep in mind your suggestions if I'm ever in the market for another bottle of sparkling shiraz. Actually, I can see it working as well as any wine with a turkey and all the trimmings. Birds of a feather? ;o) Anyway, thanks for the advice.

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  • 8 months later...

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file...WIGO9CSFBM1.DTL

I was aware of slightly fizzy French and Italian Reds; but, apparently the Australians (and some Californians) have gotten it into their heads to add fizz to some fairly serious red wines.

Anyone tried these or have opinions?

"The best Australian sparkling red wines can be astonishing to Americans who expect grape soda pop. First of all, they're dry. And they're not frothy lightweights. They have the character of the varietal from which they're made -- most often Shiraz -- and also the terroir where they're grown. They can be earthy, rich and complex, with long finishes, yet the bubbles make them more food-friendly than a still wine made from the same grapes."

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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