Monthly Archives: October 2011

Seppelt ‘Original Sparkling Shiraz’ Vintage 2006

Winery: Seppelt

Region: Glenlofty, Grampians, Great Western

Vintage: 2006

Style: Australian Sparkling Shiraz

Alcohol: 13.5%


I’m ashamed to admit, but I’m writing this a couple of days after I drank this, looking over some badly scribbled notes in my pretentious Moleskine notebook. However, I think I’m so familiar with the Seppelt Original Sparkling Shiraz that I could write the review from memory anyways. The 2005 was the first sparkling shiraz I ever had (or at least remember having), so it certainly has a soft spot in my memory.

The 2006 is crimson purple with a medium/medium-full body; pours with a quickly dissipating mousse. To the nose there’s a touch of raspberry and cherry cordial, a bit of leather and plum. The effervescence is light on the tongue, letting you dwell on plum and mulberries on the sweet start, while nutmeg and spice carry with the lightly tart-tannin’d finish.

Given memories are just reconstructions, I can’t vouch for their accuracy, but I do remember enjoying the 2005 more that this. My wife and I bought a couple of 2005’s and were disappointed a few months later to find, and try, the 2006 that was being stocked at most bottle shops. Nevertheless, Seppelt – who’ve been making the style since the late 19th century – are a really safe safe bet for the price: 3.5/5

Bought from Dan Murphy’s for about $19 | Winemaker: Seppelt

See also: Australian Wine Review | The Weekly Review | The Age


Although I can’t be totally sure of the veracity of my brain’s reconstruction of the 2005 Seppelt experience, I’d be willing to wager I’m doing better than Brian Wilson’s reconstruction of the 1960’s (hey, it’s by his own admission!)

Apparently Don’t Worry Baby, a B-side to I Get Around, was Wilson’s attempt to have The Beach Boys recreate the essence of The Ronnettessong Be My Baby. Dig it!


Not in the mood? Maybe you’re after something a little more complex, say with hints of dark chocolate and burnt toffee? ‘Cause that’s just what you were after, right? I thoroughly recommend Cooper’s Best Extra Stout as an ever reliable and affordable beer. Though it’s a “winter beer” at heart, I’m sure a BBQ is as good an excuse as any.

Ratebeer | Coopers


Leave a comment

Posted by on October 30, 2011 in Review



Available for a short period of time (click the graphic below to go to Skye Cellars).

A big muchas gracias to Mick Vaughan – who you can read at Crikey and at his blog – for the tip. Thanks, Mick!


Posted by on October 26, 2011 in Review


Cheap Tuesday: Banrock Station Sparkling Shiraz

Winery: Banrock Station

Region: Riverland, South Australia

Vintage: NV

Style: Australian Sparkling Red (sweet)

Alcohol: 14%


Banrock Station’s Reserve Sparkling Shiraz is dark crimson; fluffy and beady head on a medium body. Brambley nose with a hint of mint. On the palate, it is creamy and extremely soft; quite sweet with strong plum and raspberry cordial elements, and little-to-no dryness. Quite inoffensive, not particularly complex, but you can expect too much for a $10: 2.5/5

Bought at Dan Murphy’s for $10 | Winemaker link: Banrock Station

Seems this one gets exported alot | UK Facebook Campaign


Have a read through the links below. Banrock Station, according to SA’s Environment Dept, “is the first internationally important wetland site to be designated in South Australia that is entirely located on private land. The management of the wetland complex is the responsibility of [Banrock parent] BRL Hardy Wine Company”. Much of Banrock Station’s materials cite their conservation funding and efforts.


Not in the mood? If you’re up for something sweet and berry-flavoured, but don’t feel like a sparkling shiraz, a good bet is the Rekorderlig Wild Berry Cider. Apparently there’s an Apple and Blackcurrant variation coming to Australia too!

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 25, 2011 in Review


Ulithorne ‘Flamma’ Sparkling Shiraz 2005

Winery: Ulithorne

Region: McLaren Vale, South Australia

Vintage: 2005

Style: Australian Sparkling Shiraz (dry)

Alcohol: 14%


Blood-and-deep-purple appearance with a light pink mousse and a medium to medium-full body. An excellent nose: raspberry, plum, a bit of port, touch of liquorice, and something floral there too… one of the best aromas on a sparkling shiraz I’ve had. Great mouthfeel with light bubbles. It’s very dry, and deliberately so – everything the recent ‘dry and tart’ cheapies should have been. Has a certain earthiness to it too. If this were nornally about $20 I’d snap a few up, but it’s overpriced at $35+

Deliberately dry was a nice change of pace: 3/5

Bought from Vintage Cellars (Balgowlah) for about $40 | Winemaker link: Ulithorne

Winefront | Cloudwine


Candyman Soundtrack – Philip Glass

Candyman (1992) is based on a short story by Clive Barker called The Forbidden, adapted and directed by English director Bernard Rose. It’s stylish and moody, and touches – lightly – on a few issues (including urban folklore in the underclass, urban decay and madness). It benefits from keeping it’s tone deliberately dry, and Rose’s involvement (following on from his psychological horror film Paperhouse) and request for scoring was enough to entice Philip Glass to write a gothic score for it driven by a chorus, pipe organ and piano.

Unfortunately, at some stage of production, Rose was removed from the the project, possibly because the film did not contain enough explicit gore. This is a disappointment to fans of the film that feel it never quite realised its potential, as it was to Glass. According to Glass’ Music of Candyman CD producer Don Christensen, “[Glass] felt that he had been manipulated. What was presented to him as a low budget independent project with creative integrity indeed became a low budget Hollywood slasher flick”.

Despite the shortcomings of the final film, Glass’ score stands out as one of the most effective and haunting soundtracks in recent horror film history. That should be no suprise, given Glass has created many excellent soundtracks including The Truman Show (1998) and the experimental Koyaanisqatsi (1982), the latter of which you may recognise from this episode of The Gilmore Girls.


Not in the mood? A complete opposite from the Ulithorne’s dryness would be the Kopparberg Pear Cider, which you can get just about anywhere these days. Sweet (but not sickly so) and refreshing!

1 Comment

Posted by on October 21, 2011 in Review



Links, or, Why The Internet Is Awesome

Sparkling Shiraz

The Weekly Review has a neat article about Sparkling Shiraz

The Age includes sparkling shiraz by Seppelt and Grampians Estate in a guide to sparkling wines

But if you’re on a budget, maybe you can use a Soda Stream to make your own sparkling shiraz! (Wine without BS)

The Heston’s Feasts clip WwBS were channelling (YouTube) *well worth watching*

Policy (namely, the Wine Equalisation Tax)

Philip White’s delivery at the launch of the report Alcohol Taxation Reform – Starting With The Wine Equalisation Tax (also: pdf of The Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation submission to the recent Tax Forum, h/t Philip White)

Philip White again on why the WET is doomed

Peter Martin asks policy-makers to tax wine like beer (I agree with him)

Cameron Murray’s look at WET and comparison to microbreweries

Kym Anderson’s working paper on alcohol taxation (PDF), via Wine Economics and Reserach Centre, University of Adelaide (drawns upon research by Anderson, John Freebairn [both from University of Adelaide], and Preety Srivastava & Xueyan Zhao [of Monash University]) (h/t Stuart Mounter).

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 19, 2011 in Distraction, Policy


Cheap Tuesday: Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Sparkling Shiraz

Winery: Wyndham Estate (Winemaker: Nigel Dolan)

Region: ‘South Eastern Australia’

Vintage: NV

Style: Australian Sparkling Shiraz

Alcohol: 13%


This is a rather inane sparkling shiraz. The bottle claimed it was full-bodied, but upon pouring, it was much closer to medium-bodied. It looked a bit like blackcurrant juice, and briefly clung to a fine mousse. Not much in the way of aroma: some raspberry and mulberry, but only at a stretch. Mouthfeel was inoffensive. Pretty crisp and dry; a bit of sour cherry, but nothing as tart as the McGuigan but nevertheless at a level that should be the domain of sourdough and brioche.

Rating: (just) 2.5 / 5 

Bought at Dan Murphy’s for $9 | Winery: Wyndham Estate

See also: Those who disagree | Some Kiwi Love


The Sticker Family

Does your Facebook list “stuff” as one of your interests? Are you one of those people who’d say “I’m crazy” to describe your personality due to a lack of interesting personality facets? I guess if you really want to know if you’re the kind of person to drink the Wyndham sparkling shiraz, check your car’s rear window. Is there a sticker family there?

Yes? Awesome; go buy this wine (or spend some money replacing them with these stickers).

No? Good. For. You.



Usually my ‘alternative’ carries some comparative value to the sparkling shiraz reviewed; not today. The Vintage Cellars ‘Chalkboard’ Frankland River Riesling is a steal at $12. This is up there with the Pikes I have stashed away as being an excellent under-$20 Riesling. It’s the antithesis of the above, and is a weekend wine at a midweek price.


Vintage Cellars | Perth Now

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 19, 2011 in Review


D’Arenberg ‘The Peppermint Paddock’ McLaren Vale Sparkling Red Chambourcin Shiraz

Winery: D’Arenberg (Chief winemaker: Chester D’arenberg Osbourne; Senior winemaker: Jack Walton)

Region: McLaren Vale, South Australia

Vintage: N.V.

Style: Australian Sparkling Red (Chambourcin)

Alcohol: 14%


I’m an unsubtle guy, so… I love D’Arenberg’s ‘Peppermint Paddock’ Sparkling Red. Made primarily of the French hybrid grape Chambourcin, with some Shiraz ‘for depth’, and fermented with the aid of some Viognier skins, it’s the Charbourcin that’s responsible for the brilliantly lurid purple colour of the wine.

Peppermint Paddock has a lovely and light effervescence, and once poured, a rapidly dissipating mousse (perhaps too much so). Your nose will tell you immediately that this is not a subtle drop; full of red and black fruits, and a hint on liquorice. The palate is seriously brambley; pick your favourite berry preserve and you’ll be able to taste it there. It’s so rich, and it doesn’t let up, managing to stay fruity the whole way through, with a nice dry finish. The concentrated fruit overpowers the aniseed elements which, though present, are not as powerful as, say, the Houghton or the Coates.

I’m not ashamed to say that – despite being prompted by the label – there is a subtle mintiness to this sparkling red, which is most welcome. The bottle attributes this to the peppermint gums that surround the chambourcin plantings; I have neither the experience or inclination to express disbelief or skepticism on this… I just think that it tastes great.

A very unique take on the Australian sparkling red: 4/5.

Bought at Vintage Cellars (Neutral Bay) for $32 (seen elsewhere for $25) | Winemaker link: D’Arenberg

See also: Wine Without Wank | Grape Observer | StraightShooters


Talking about unsubtle, let’s pair Peppermint Paddock with Matthew Bright’s hard-edged ‘artspolitation’ black-comedy Freeway (1996), starring Kiefer Sutherland, Reese Witherspoon, Brittney Murphy, Brooke Shields, and Dan Hedaya. It’s a ‘twisted’ version of Little Red Riding Hood; though, for mine, it’s closer in spirit that some people’s latter-day understandings.

Funnily enough, the MPAA described the violence in the film as “lurid” and it’s hard not to agree. It also had to have a few bits snipped out to get an R18+ rating by the Classification Board back in ’96 to get released in Australia (though I imagine if Deadwood can get an MA15+ nowadays, Freeway would have no issue for an uncut DVD release).

I’d go on about the prostitution, gang-killings, serial killers, abusive stepfather, all-female gaol, but it’d best if you believe me if I said it’s just a really fun film and you should watch it. Nevertheless, a score my Danny ‘Oingo Boingo’ Elfman (who would have made an awesome Joker in Batman) and oversight by EP Oliver Stone, helps Freeway maintain high production values, and frankly, the film is funny, irreverent, and fun, albeit in a particularly lurid fashion.


Not in the mood? Small Acres ‘Norfolk Still’ Cyder is a treat. It’s tart and yummy, and with no bubbles. Drink like a wine, but know you don’t have have to be a wanker when reviewing / drinking it.

[image pinched from Small Acres]

Small Acres | RateBeer


Posted by on October 14, 2011 in Review


Cheap Tuesday: McGuigan Black Label Premium Release Shiraz

[image pinched from McGuigan Wines]

Winery: McGuigan Wines

Region: TBC; McGuigan are based in the Hunter Valley, but the grapes are often sourced from around Australia.

Vintage: NV

Style: Australian Sparkling Shiraz

Alcohol: 13%


Medium bodied; I could see right through it against the light though (unlike some sparkling shiraz). Some plumb aroma, some Christmas cakey fruits, but also a hint of ash. Excellent bubbles and texture, but on the palate it initially tastes a little like diluted dark chocolate. There’s no real fruityness on the palate, other than perhaps sour dark cherry, and it only carries a dry tartness throughout.

Overall, unsatisfying, even for a midweek quoff. Rating: 2/5

Bought at Dan Murphy’s for $8 | Winery: McGuigan Wines


This will sound mean. It almost is, but I can justify it… really. Drink while you’re watching A Serbian Film (2010). A Serbian Film is not an outright bad film… it just leaves an extremely bitter taste in your mouth. The production values are quite high, and there’s something there to be appreciated under the surface… but it just can’t overcome it’s own bitterness.

Some might be able to justify watching the A Serbian Film:


Not in the mood? Try a Rebello ‘Cheeky Rascal’ Apple & Strawberry Cider. Really tart and bitter, and it’s only real purpose is for intoxication, but it’s marginally better than a Cruiser.

1 Comment

Posted by on October 12, 2011 in Review


Rumball Sparkling Shiraz (Sparkling Blend 18)

[image pinched from Fine Wine]

Winery: Peter Rumball Wines (Peter Rumball)

Region: Coonawarra

Vintage: Non Vintage

Style: Australia Sparkling Shiraz

Alcohol: 12.5%


Winemaking:  (from the maker) “Methode Champenoise (MC) … the wine is fermented in, and stays in, the same bottle throughout the making of the sparkling red. The MC process allows maximum time on lees, giving better middle palate and balance to the wine. MC also gives finer bubbles, as bubbles reduce in size the longer the contact with the wine. This then gives a more creamy palate to the wine”.


Peter Rumball is a bit of a sparkling red legend, having advocated and made the style for decades. As the style gains popularity and prominence, the quality, quantity and appreciation of the style should increase; so, while it’s good now, things are going to get better.

Rumball’s SB18 has a medium to medium-full body, and looks a lot like the Joseph Sparkling Red (though this was a fraction of the price) being a maroon and blood-red amalgam. The bubbles are moderately fine, and create a pink mousse on top. The aroma made me think of Ribena at first, and maybe a touch of some stone fruit. The palate is very rich and full of flavour, with a dominant taste of prune juice, which makes for a nice change from the dominant licorice seen in recent bottles. SB18 maintains a dryness the whole way through, though the post-disgorgement licquering gives some sweetness.

I found it tasted a lot better after having let the bottle sit for 10 minutes are taking it out of the fridge, improving as the chill wanes. I also suspect that the SB18 will be appreciated after having had experience with the style, particularly as the pruniness may be offputting to some.

Looking forward to trying the Sparkling Merlot and the Sparkling Vintage… 3.5/5

Bought at Vintage Cellars for about $25 | Winemaker link: Rumball Sparkling Wines


Rumball’s championing of Sparkling Shiraz reminds me a little bit of Australian Football – and by ‘football’, I mean soccer – legend Johnny Warren, who persisted with his love of the game despite stereotypes and general disinterest. Australian soccer had been in disarray for years, with a shitty national league – the NSL – and a string of unsuccessful World Cup campaigns. Unfortunately, Warren passed away as Australian soccer began to hit puberty: The NSL was collapsing into the A-League, and not long after, the Socceroos made the World Cup in 2006 for the first time since 1974. Next year, we’re about to start an FA Cup style event throughout Australia, the FFA Cup.

That makes the next A-League match an ideal pairing. It’s fun, appreciation is growing, and it’s going to keep getting better (usual silly sporting controversies aside). Maybe one day (as with Warren’s ambition to do so with association football) when sparkling shiraz is esteemed in the eyes of the nation, Rumball will be able to say “I told you so!“.

The A-League isn’t always pretty…


Not in the mood? Innis and Gunn Canadian Cask Oak Aged Beer is worth a try. Aged in whiskey oak, it’s pretty unique.

Innis & GunnRateBeer | Wikipedia

[image from Folk & Ale]

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 10, 2011 in Review


Good for the heart?

Human Heart Carafe from Paola C

(h/t Boing Boing and Neatorama)

I do have quite a few bottles of Chris Ringland 2008 Shiraz stashed away…

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 8, 2011 in Distraction