Winery: D’Arenberg (Chief winemaker: Chester D’arenberg Osbourne; Senior winemaker: Jack Walton)
Region: McLaren Vale, South Australia
Style: Australian Sparkling Red (Chambourcin)
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.
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.
[image pinched from Small Acres]