[2006 bottle picture; image pinched from Cremorne Cellars]
Winery: Coates Wine (Duane Coates)
Region: Clare Valley 34%, McLaren Vale 33% and Langhorne Creek 33%
Style: Australian Sparkling Shiraz
Alcohol – 14.0%
Production – 400 cases made.
Winemaking – (from the producer) “A mix of natural and cultured yeasts during ferment. Maturation in predominantly French oak barriques (10% new) with a few American and Russian hogsheads for 18 months. Unfined, but was filtered (necessary for sparkling)”.
There’s a lot to enjoy in this 2009 CCCS, yet I was left ever-so-slightly wanting, even if the reason so is hard to quantify. Maybe I was in a mood. Anyways, the CCCS walks a delicate tightrope between the sweet and fruit-laden, and something rather earthy and dry (no doubt influenced by the oak in the process). In fact, that balance is something every sparkling shiraz should aspire to do! To the nose, the sweetness is immediately apparent, but to the palate one becomes a bit distracted by the moderate effervescence – the bubbles are not superfine, but far from oppressive – which I often find can help highlight some of the spice and liquorice. To the eye, the wine clearly has a body fuller than most, and conveys a stunning, almost lurid, dark purple.
So why, if this sparkling ticks so many boxes, am I left wanting? I don’t know either. Saying it ‘sat on the fence too much’ is an arbitrary and silly criticism given that the balancing act of sweet and dry is one of the very reasons to drink the style. I’m leaning towards a lack of something “a little extra”, like the use of port in Majella’s sparkling shiraz; this is, however, by design as Mr. Coates has specifically made this wine with minimal intervention. Maybe the wine could have used a bit more intervention from it’s maker?
Not long after Heartbreak Club began performing live, we were invited to perform a support slot for Jonah Matranga (a.k.a onelinedrawing). This was in a warehouse in Newcastle for about 50 people, and happened to be one of the best live shows I’ve seen. Ever. Matranga was performing solo (this was the first and only show on the Australian tour he performed without a backing band), occasionally using a drum machine and/or backing tracks to supplement some songs. Matranga’s performance was intimate, organic and purveyed with a minimum of intervention; his songs were emotional, his banter charismatic, and in totality was genuine and sincere without labouring any particular point.
Following this show, I bought my now-wife (whose impression of Matranga surpassed my own) the last onelinedrawing release, The Volunteers, that featured the highlight song of Matranga’s set, ‘Stay’. As it turns out, Stay was effectively co-written by Chad Waldrup (of Hopesfall and …Of Sinking Ships; the music for Stay was an instrumental for OSS called The Last Signal). Like the rest of the album, ‘Stay’ appears to have been recorded mainly on Matranga’s laptop, and has a stripped-back, ‘organic’ feel to the vocals (the liner notes indicate the drums were ‘thumbdrums’ after some failed on-the-road live tracking). Like the CCCS review above, Stay succeeds on the critieria on which it should be evaluated, but for some reason it’s hard to quantify exactly what “little extra” is needed to make the output soar; similarly, I suspect that more intervention from it’s maker during it’s production would have made Stay a sublime example of what a singer-songwriter can achieve. Nevertheless; a great song.
Not in the mood? Maybe try and track down a bottle of La Fin du Monde, a Unibroue beer from Quebec, Canada. The Belgian-style golden ale has received many accolade over the years, and deservedly so. I’ve picked up 750ml bottles for $15 (Vintage Cellars, Seaforth) and seen it $19 (Porter’s, Balgowlah), so you don’t need to go to la fin du monde to get it.