Hardy’s OOMOO Sparkling Shiraz 2004

Hardy's 2004 Oomoo Sparkling Shiraz

[Image copyright]

Winery: Hardy’s

Region: Clare Valley, South Australia

Vintage: 2004

Alcohol: 13%


I owe a debt of gratitude to two people for this review: first, Mick Vaughan who tipped me off about a stunning deal for the Oomoo sparkling shiraz; secondly, to Chris Plummer whose reviews are always informative, enlightening and well-considered.

The Oomoo normally retails in the $15 to $25 price range. I got a case for $9 a bottle. The problem in acquiring wines is that it’s hard not to let price be a variable that affects one’s perceptions. Knowing that I got these super-cheap must have had some effect.

Interestingly, the back label’s on these are in Japanese. Wine exporter’s pain from a high dollar is my gain, I guess.

Held to the light, it’s more transparent on the edges than I had imagined it would be; deep purple transitions to an irridescent brick-dust red. Moderately persistent pink beady bubbles. I had secretly hoped for something a bit more full-bodied; this is a medium-full-bodied wine.

The Oomoo is loaded with jammy fruit, with a subtle mintiness throughout (how those two work together I’m stull unsure of!). Hints of chocolate mingle with cranberries, mulberries, a pinch of cherry tartness. Some reviews posit this in the middle of the sweet-dry spectrum; I’d edge it slightly further to the sweet side, but only a little.

I should probably lock a couple of these away for a few years (though it’s already 7 years old!). I think Shannon and I are over halfway through the case of these I bought. If I were blind-folded, I’d rate it as a good, par-for-the-course sparkling shiraz. Maybe I’m biased a bit because it was so cheap. At $9 a bottle, it’s stunning 3.5 / 5.

Bought from Skye Cellars | Hardy’s | Tony Love | Australian Wine Journal


Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 1)

Throughout high school, I had dismissed Buffy as being a vampified variation on Dawson’s Creek, an assumption made without having watched it or evidence beyond doubting the tastes of my peers. In about the second or third year of university, I had begun working night shifts at a service station (cash in hand, often 16 hour shifts [longest was 20!!]) and flush with hot cash and hotter pockets had amassed a substantial DVD collection (as some form of alleviation to my employment’s flow-on effects of sleep deprivation, social deprivation, and depressed personability).

(Perhaps mentioning that after my Sunday-to-Wednesday bloc of nightshift – uni – 3 hour sleep – nightshift – uni – 2 hour sleep – radio co-hosting – night shift , I’d go home and drink homebrew to get myself to pass out is unsuitable in an alcohol review… but I digress)

Having found a copy of Buffy Season 1 for $15 (new), there was little to be lost, particularly for aforementioned escapist purposes. Needless to say, Buffy – as many Joss Whedon fans would attest to – was well-written and far more substantial than (what most people would assume supernatural fare to be) expected.

The general “no one understands what it’s like” theme throughout resonated with the coalescing overworked and post-adolescent-youth themes of that cahpter of my life.


2010 Red Knot GSM

Not in the mood? Shingleback’s cheapo line put out this stunner. I think the two bottles we picked up were $10 each. Again, maybe the price relative to quality was a factor in it’s reception. Upon drinking the first glass and being impressed with the value, I searched and found it had received numerous positive reviews, including a 94 from Saint Halliday.

Kinda changes the implications of “mid-week quoff”.


Leave a comment

Posted by on April 4, 2012 in Review


Hugh Hamilton ‘The Madam’ Sparkling Merlot

Winery: Hugh Hamilton Wines

Region: McLaren Vale

Vintage: NV

Alcohol: 14%


‘The Madam’ certainly looks like an attractive, if not elegant, beast, pouring with a blood red fizz that kept a-buzzing for some time. To the eye, it’s a thick blackcurrant purple. I wasn’t sure what to make of the nose; restrained and breezy, with a bit of mintyness and some indistinct berry fruits.

Appearances are a little bit deceiving – it looked like it’d have a much fuller body, but the mouthfeel was rather flat. Like many a mid-level sparkling red, tart berry preserve is rather ubiquitous. Something jammy, something limey; and sweeter as you persevere, showcasing sweet plum.

I don’t think Hugh makes his sparkling red as a Sparkling Merlot anymore; it appears that he’s moved ‘The Madam’ to be a Sparkling Sangiovese-Tempranillo, which I’m eager to try. However, this release really felt like a “Oh, what are we going to do with all this Merlot that’s laying about?” 2.5/5

Bought from Porter’s Bowgowlah for about $22 | Hugh Hamilton Wines | Lonely Grape



The Toxic Avenger parts II (1989 – IMDB) and III (1989 – IMDB)

In somewhat of a thematic flip from my concluding comments about “what to do with this leftover Merlot?”, Troma’s use of ‘leftovers’ in this series was actually better than it’s intended purpose. Troma founder and director Lloyd Kaufman (whose fervent independence was an inspiration to my teenage-self) shot something like four hours (!) of footage for the sequel to 1984’s head-crushing exploitation classic The Toxic Avenger.

Troma split the sequel into two separate parts: part II is atrocious and lame, but part III manages to be a genuinely funny, campy and light-hearted, albeit gory, film. It’s counter-intuitive to think that ‘the leftovers’ that made part III would be superior in all senses.

As always, there’s caveats to this recommended pairing. Like sparkling reds, Troma films are an acquired taste. You also need to ensure you get the best expressions of the style, and for the Toxic Avenger films you need to get the unrated, uncut director’s cuts of the films as the cinema/VHS releases were mangled by the MPAA.


Not drink?

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 15, 2012 in Review


Nice one, ‘Selector’

Bleasdale in the Summer edition of ‘Selector’ which I happened to come across at work…


Posted by on January 12, 2012 in Distraction


Tags: , ,

Sommeliers and Beer

Sometime ago, my wife’s family and I went for dinner at Pilu at Freshwater, in Sydney. It was generally enjoyable, and the restaurant is widely recognised as having Australia’s best wine list, a fair statement when you peruse said impressive wine list (pdf).

But the beer list is ordinary, and almost insulting next to the wine list. Pilu aren’t making any claims about their beer list, it should be said, but the dismissive treatment of ales is indicative of a wider trend among (some) restaurants and sommeliers for whom there is a divide between beer and wine (or assumptions about their demographic).

I rather take the line of thought that suggests that both wine and beer are so diverse; with depth of style, flavour, and pairing; and ability of their brewers and purveyors, that being dismissive of one field or the other is erroneous and naive.

As such, it was refreshing to see an article titled Beer Me, Sommelier over at Slate, the conclusion of which is as follows:

Like great wine, great beer deserves well-trained people who can build a strong collection of barrels and bottles, and know how pair them well. Many restaurants and bars have a long way to go, but the example of people like Engert and Daniels points the way to an auspicious future. A well-chosen and expertly-paired beer can be a revelation, so it’s time for more establishments to get their people in the revealing business.

I concur.

1 Comment

Posted by on January 7, 2012 in Distraction


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Fox Creek ‘Vixen’ NV Sparkling Cabernet Sauvignon / Shiraz / Cabernet Franc

It’s good to be back in the saddle. The holiday period was anything but; interstate travels, writing the new Heartbreak Club album in Melbourne, assignments, yadda yadda yadda. Have had many new and interesting drinks, though none have been sparkling reds (!)

Fox Creek Vixen Sparkling Red

Winery: Fox Creek

Region: McLaren Vale

Vintage: NV

Alcohol: 14%


So, unlike the Padthaway Estate Eliza which I bought concurrent to this, the packaging of Vixen was a big turn off. However it had far more in common with the Eliza than the label suggested:

The wine looks identical the Eliza.

The wine smells identical to Eliza.

The wine tastes identical to Eliza, but with more Mr Sheen.

It really felt like they splashed whatever leftover shit was around into a barrel and added bubbles. If it weren’t for the price tag, it’d belong with many of the Cheap Tuesday cohorts. How this got an 89 for Saint Halliday is beyond me.

Alas, a same old story that’s getting tiresome; 2/5.

Fox Creek | Bought at Vintage Cellars Mosman for about $25


South Park – You’re Getting Old

[IMDB | Wikipedia | South Park Studios]

From Wikipedia:

“You’re Getting Old” is the seventh episode and mid-season finale of the fifteenth season of the American animated television series South Park, and the 216th episode of the series overall. It first aired on Comedy Central in the United States on June 8, 2011. In the episode, Stan, after celebrating his tenth birthday, begins to develop a profound sense of cynicism, and his inability to see anything positive in the world around him alienates him from his friends.

The episode was written by series co-creator Trey Parker and is rated TV-MA L in the United States. It was seen by some critics as a metaphor for the frustration experienced by creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone stemming from the show’s continued production, and an unofficial series finale. However, Parker and Stone denied being unhappy with the show and stated that they still enjoy producing episodes.

This episode was frequently mistaken as a swan song for South Park, and indeed, the cynicism Stan Marsh was afflicted with in this episode was similar to the (brief) feelings of cynicism I had while reviewing this wine.

On it’s own merits, the episode manages to be tasteless, satirical and somewhat poignant. And much, much better than Vixen.


Not in the mood? Red Duck Limited Release Golden Dragon is worth checking out.

Red Duck are one of Australia’s smallest microbreweries, but some of they’re releases are deserving of much more notoriety and acclaim. Golden Dragon is well balanced and very tasty, and a very pleasant pick as I work my way through the extensive McCoppins Fitzroy beer range during my month-long stay in Melbourne.

Image taken from Highly Hopped review

Red Duck | RateBeer

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 5, 2012 in Review


Tags: , , , ,

Go read this…

Chris Plummer has an excellent review of the Rockford Black Shiraz (2010 disgorgement) over at his excellent Australian Wine Journal. If there was ever a sparkling shiraz review that could make you salivate, it’s this one.

In the new year sometime, I’ll be reviewing one of the 2009 Disgorgement I have… but man, 2010’s sounds amazing.

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 27, 2011 in Distraction


Holiday Break / Christmas Recommendations

Hey Team,

Haven’t had much of chance to write any posts/reviews this week. I’m in Melbourne on a kind-of break; meaning I’m not “working” but Heartbreak Club are writing a new album and when we’re not in the studio, I’m furiously plowing through my Summer Semester readings. It’s all fun, just not sparkling-shiraz-fun.

In saying that, I had the pleasure of drinking and playing Euchre with friends last night. We started in Collingwood’s The Gem Bar (we also had a pretty grouse dinner there too; Haloumi burger this time) with some pints of Cavalier Pale Ale.


Altogether a very pleasant, summery ale with refreshingly fruity hops.

Taking a detour on the way back home, we stopped in at McCoppins Beer & Wine which had a highly impressive beer selection, and a pretty good sparkling shiraz section. We picked up a bottle of BlackBilly Sparkling Shiraz NV for $15. I was too lazy to write notes. It’s the second time I’ve had BlackBilly, and I was certainly more underwhelmed than the first time I had it. It’s not bad by any stretch; it actually ticks many boxes for the style, but it wasn’t unique or complex enough to warrant much more than a 3/5 rating. Good price though.

Family holidays, assignments, more writing in the studio, and study will mean posting will be sporadic until mid-January. But in the pipeline I have a bundle more reviews and a feature which has proven to be quite interesting in writing.

In short, thanks to my incrementally increasing readership for the comments, feedback, tips and general welcoming into the underground Australian BoozeBlogosphere! Have a happy holidays, play safe, and I guess it’d be remiss of me not to recommend you have some sparkling shiraz on Christmas Day (or any hot summer day these holidays!).

2011 Recommendations

No particular order.

Houghton ‘Museum Release’ 2004 (review) if you can find it!

Leasingham ‘Classic Clare’ 2004 (review) if you’re willing to pay a bit more…

D’Arenberg ‘Peppermint Paddock’ Chambourcin Shiraz NV (review) a bit divisive this one; you’ll love it or hate it!

Bleasdale NV (review) best <$20 widely available I rekon

Joseph Sparkling Red (unreviewed; link to website) absolutely delicious; unbeatable, and a superior yet unique expression of the style. 

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 22, 2011 in Distraction, Review


Padthaway Estate Eliza 2005 Sparkling Shiraz

Winery: Padthaway Estate

Region: South East Australia

Vintage: 2005

Alcohol: 12.5%


Offered in a restrained but rather attractive bottle, I had reasonably high hopes for this sparkling shiraz. It poured with a pinky mousse, and held cranberry, aniseed and peppermint on the nose. The medium body felt a little watered down, alas. Tart berries and faint hint of dark chocolate. Meh.

The label was better than the wine 2.5/5

Bought at Vintage Cellars, Mosman, for about $30 | Padthaway Estate


Forget the Film, Watch the Titles [click for website] | Art of the Title [click for website]


Above: American Horror Story title sequence (far better than the show itself)

A wine label has much in common with the title sequences of films and television shows. In fact, much of what is written here, by Forget the Film, Watch the Titles, parallels the role of wine packaging and marketing:

You know what they say about first impressions…
Title sequences can be engaging or wildly entertaining, funny, exhilarating, or simply drop dead beautiful. They can be oozing with visual poetry and sophisticated imagery while others hit you hard with their bold and audacious stylistic gestures. And let’s face it, everybody loves a good title sequence.

The very best title sequences not only succeed in putting the audience in the right mood for the movie, they transcend their proper function and venture off into the realm of something far deeper and far greater. They are the signifiers of contemporary pop culture and an art form in their own right. 

Whereas some wines have splendid packaging that matches the quality of the wine (such as Tuesner’s Sparkling Shiraz), other wines rely too much on the labels, packaging and marketing rather than the wine itself (indeed, in some instances, the packaging and marketing is a way of avoiding the fact the product itself is absolute shite).

Some television shows are actually overshadowed by their title sequences; American Horror Story (above) and True Blood (see below) are prime examples. Unlike AHS, TB, the title sequence – as with the wine label (in this instance, the Eliza) – should be a complement to the show (or wine), as is the case with Dexter (also below).

Above: Dexter title sequence (by Digital Kitchen)

From Art of the TitleA blood valentine to the fucking madness, the opening title sequence for Showtime’s “Dexter” is a veritable annunciation of an unholy but likable embodiment of the common rage we can root for. It is a sociopath’s ability to focus on the little things.

While stabilizing sources suggest Dexter’s episodic beginning was carefully designed, it is also enjoyable to view it as slick Grand Guignol, relatable and savage. Here is a killer consumed by the pursuit of an unattainable satiety, all jaw and maw, whetting this morning-time macabre in florid, ratcheting fashion. With a twisted lick of piano wire/dental floss, a favored mosquito going red, and food gone wild, we are able to refine and contextualize the shape, scream and vision of one Dexter Morgan. The butter of all that blood, shaving to bleed and the tang of hot sauce pyrotechnics, plays toward our tendencies of psychiatrist and sidekick.

Below: True Blood title sequence (Digital Kitchen)

For more excellent title sequences, some of which are better than their actual shows, see this article by Mole Empire.


Not in the mood? Clonakilla’s 2011 Riesling is pretty rad, especially if you can get it for $25 (maybe buy some online from the winery?). I’d have no hesitation in saying you should buy this instead of the Eliza; there’s no contest. We had a bottle last week, and I want more!

Clonakilla | Australian Wine Journal


1 Comment

Posted by on December 13, 2011 in Review


Jip Jip Rocks Sparkling Shiraz

Winery: Jip Jip Rocks

Region: South East Australian

Vintage: NV

Alcohol: 12.5%


I can honestly say I went into this bottle with no preconceptions. So the first pour was attractive: a persistent pink-crimson broth clung to the rim; a dark purple and a slight glow. Fertile, if not ubiquitous, brambley jam and minty freshness led the nose.

Though not inundating, the optimist in me felt the sight and scent held promise. Hoping it’d deliver, the taste was disappointingly mundane. Not bad… mundane. There’s nothing really poignant at the start, and no real grip at the end. The middle is white pepper, sour plum and lime. Pretty perfect to be flogged off through Wine Selectors, I guess.

Taste is on par with ther Wyndham, but not on price. 2.5/5

Bought at Porter’s Balgowlah for about $20 | Jip Jip Rocks


Anne from Arrested Development.

Not bad…. mundane.


Not in the mood? A Magner’s Irish Apple Cider with a taste of Orange and Honey perhaps? Not bad… just mundane. Easy drinking summer nothingness.

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Review


Weekend West’s Ray Jordan features Sparkling Burgundy

Kudos to Ray Jordan‘s profile and picks in today’s Weekend West. Having had all 5 in this review, I’d largely concur with his comments. It also reminds me that I really need to get a move on and do a review of the Joseph… a review is as good a reason as any, right??

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 4, 2011 in Review