Houghton ‘Museum Release’ Sparkling Shiraz 2004

07 Oct

Winery: Houghton Wines (Winemakers: Ross Pamment [base]; Ed Carr [sparkling])

Region: Franklin River

Vintage: 2004

Style: Australian Sparkling Shiraz (Methode Champenoise)

Alcohol: 14%

Winemaking: (from the bottle) “…matured for 2 years in oak and then a further 3 years on yeast lees”.


Put simply, this sparkling shiraz is fantastic. I haven’t had a West-Australian sparkling shiraz before, but I’m glad I didn’t let any regional bias prejudice me. The bad news? This was a one-off release! Grab one for now, one for later, and one for posterity.

Museum Release is deep purple, with a medium-to-full body. The nose is reasonably fruity; already there’s some dark cherry notable. The bubbles are moderately-fine, which is good because they’re very present but not overwhelming. Wham: it’s sweet at first then dry, even tart, at the finish; starting with fruits and dark cherry, and finishing in a rather aniseedy fashion. As the chill wanes, the cherry and port (like the best of them, this was liquered after disgorgement) become more noticeable.

A rich, decadent, treat. 4.5/5

Thanks to Ross Pamment at Houghton Wines for the quick response to my questions.

Bought at Porter’s Balgowlah for about $50 (seen elsewhere for $37) | Winemaker link: Houghton Wines


MGMT – Time to Pretend

Two things struck me with the Museum release: 1. Too much of it would be hedonistic (duh!); and 2. it’s a wine that is amenable to nostalgia, say with friends at Christmas lunch. There’s nothing really wrong with a rich treat now and then, but outright hedonism cannot be encouraged. As for nostalgia, it too is fine, so long as it doesn’t descend into the “I wish we were back when Australians used to make things” or “things were better in 1991” (they weren’t).

Some of these themes, in a roundabout fashion perhaps, were addressed in Time to Pretend by MGMT (2007). My initial interpretation of the song was that it could be a critique of Hipster Culture; if anything the song was pissing on the shoes of their audience, and the self-absorbed lives of mostly affluent, post-culture, post-adolescent youths therein. I was kind-of right: it was as much an exercise in self-analysis and satire of the “rock lifestyle“. It’s all pretty evident in the lyrics.

There’s a pervasive sense of nostalgia, both lyrically (see the second verse, where the protagonist yearns for a time when simple things meant something) and, importantly, the production. The juicy synth line alone manages to give the song warmth, void of hip and ironic malappropriation, despite the potential for hip-retroness to it. Some of this is addressed in Cannon’s Forensics of a Song, though I dispute their dismissive take on the lyrics. So, in sum, Time to Pretend is a nice tune to embrace a bit of decadence and nostalgia but keep them in check, even if the video itself appears to be an endorsement of LSD, which then (arguably, in this instance, incorrectly) “add[s] to the band’s society-drop-out apathetic vibe” (Cannon). It should be noted too that the song was written well before they broke the big time.


Not in the mood? I don’t want to look like my beer drinking options are limited, but another Unibroue release from Canada. La Terrible is an Abbey-style ale, picked up (again) from Porter’s Balgowlah. Like, the Houghton, it’s a rich, decadent treat, suitable for sharing on a special occasion.

Unibroue | RateBeer | Wikipedia


Posted by on October 7, 2011 in Review


4 responses to “Houghton ‘Museum Release’ Sparkling Shiraz 2004

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