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


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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.

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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??

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Posted by on December 4, 2011 in Review


Leasingham ‘Classic Clare’ Sparkling Shiraz 2004

2004 Leasingham Classic Clare Sparkling Shiraz

Winery: Leasingham Wines

Region: Clare Valley

Vintage: 2004

Alcohol: 14%


This is interesting. There’s broad agreement that the Classic Clare is one of the best examples of the style, and I recommend reading the summary on WineStar as a case in point. It was also made by Ed Carr, the “Australian fizz master” who also put the sparkles into the Houghton Museum Release, which makes it very promising. I’m not quite as enthusiastic as many other reviewers, and I’m not entirely sure why. I’ll hypothesise at the end of this review; but for now, let’s sing it’s virtues, of which there are many!

Classic Clare pours as a brilliantly full-bodied dark mulberry-purple, with a red mousse from an almost-perfect effervescence that clings to the glass-rim for longer than many-a-sparkling shiraz. The nose is fruity and has a pinch of aniseed and spice. The mouthfeel is dense and drier than I had expected, a notch below the dryness of the Ulithorne. I really didn’t find nearly as much sweetness out of this as some other reviews have alluded to (am I desensitised?). The focus for mine was slightly sour berries and a bit of tartness, port, licorice and spice.

My hypothesis for my marginally-diminished enthusiasm was that maybe I was expecting a smidge more sweetness in it’s balance. In some sense, I think that may well be a problem with some of the releases at the ‘serious’ end of the style; the seriousness nudges the frivolity to the side, as if it were trying a bit too much to prove itself to be a serious wine to sparkling shiraz doubters. (This reads much harsher than intended, I might add).

Alas, my focus on this one particular aspect overwhelms the immense positivism to be had from this release. I’m going to grab a couple more too: partly because I want to revisit this in a few years time, but also – sadly – Constellation (now Accolade) shut down and sold off much of the Leasingham vineyards (but retained the brand-name). It’s not all sad – Tim Adams and Pam Goldsack have taken on the winery as a going concern – but these pre-2007 releases will become very scarce and the style may never be repeated in the same fashion.

It’s a splendid wine, and well-worthy of 4/5 (if not a fraction more).

Bought from Vintage Cellars for about $59 | Cheaper at Nick’s and Dan Murphy’s

Leasingham Wines | WineStar | Chris Plummer on the 2002

Constellation sell to Tim Adams and Pam Goldsack


The Dark Knight (2008)

There’s broad agreement that The Dark Knight is an excellent vision of Batman, and as far as film versions go, it’s my personal equal favourite with Tim Burton’s Batman Returns (1992). One of the best things about Batman is that he can be envisioned in many ways; replicated in camp fashion (i.e. the 60’s TV version) at one extreme, to Frank Miller’s nihilism at the other.

The Dark Knight, a bit like the Leasingham ‘Classic Clare’, appears to be trying that wee bit too hard to espouse it’s Seriousness credentials at the expense of the comic. The uncompromising bleakness, unbroken by any humour or warmth, is mostly justified; after all, it is The Joker (a chilling and brilliant portrayal by the late Health Ledger), whom revels in decay and orchestrates chaos, who is the primary driver of film’s narrative and theme.

Aside from the (ultimately minor) criticism that The Dark Knight and the Classic Clare are too serious for their own good, there’s another parallel; that of haunting tragedy. The Classic Clare, as discussed above, will never be made again, and likewise, The Dark Knight is overshadowed by the death of Ledger. A certain foreboding and dearth of humour is concurrent is each that presses on their brilliance; however, Classic Clare and The Dark Knight are paired mellifluously.


Not in the mood? Something a little out of left field: Brewdog’s There is No Santa Spiced Christmas Beer (Stout). Cinnamon and ginger abounds! Not brilliant, but it does get the balance between seriousness and frivolity pretty much spot on. Christmas cake in a bottle!

RateBeer | BrewDog


Posted by on December 3, 2011 in Review


A slight segue…

Readers may recall my recent review of Yellowglen’s ‘Red’, which was rather scathing. My post was at risk of becoming seriously ranty, so I wrote some thoughts about Yellowglen’s marketing in a separate post, with the view to having it appear on another more appropriate blog.

Said thoughts have now been posted over at Sociological Images, a great US-based blog that uses various images to discuss sociological concepts.

UPDATE: And, also in a writing mood, I wrote a post about the banning of The Human Centipede: Full Sequence by the powers that be over at AnythingHorror.



Posted by on December 2, 2011 in Distraction


Halliday’s 100

I’m a bit slow on the uptake with this (Halliday’s top 100 was released a few weeks ago). But it was nice to see Joseph making an appearance. I haven’t had one of these since I started this blog, but the last one I had (maybe 8 months ago) was pretty darn good. An excellent example of sparkling red, unique enough in it’s own right, and complex enough to make the biggest sparkling red doubter take notice.

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Posted by on November 30, 2011 in Distraction


The Potts Family ‘Bleasdale’ Sparkling Shiraz (N.V)

Winery: Bleasdale (The Potts Family)

Region: Langhorne Creek, SA

Vintage: NV

Alcohol: 13.5%


The Bleasdale is the best value sparkling shiraz. Ever.

(Well, perhaps only until I review to Oomoo which I got super cheap).

So you wouldn’t be surprised to find it’s a dark cherry purple-red, and held to light looks like mulberry cordial. It’s smells a bit like the D’arenberg Peppermint Paddock; port, berries and leather, all of which are warmly welcomed. It has a very fine effervescence that is well-suited to it’s medium-body.

It’s porty (not too much so), with tart berries and sour cherry, with a sweetness to start, which morphs to off-dry as the tannins begin to grip. Let the chill wane a bit if you prefer the sweeter and jammier presence to come to the fore.

Well-worthy of a higher price tag, this sparkling shiraz is dangerously good. Prima facie, it’s dark, foreboding, and certainly not salubrious, though the longer you go with it, a certain humour begins to subvert that theme. 4/5.

Potts Family Wines | Bought from Dan Murphy’s for $20

Wine Without Wank | BoozeMonkey


Breaking Bad (2008 – ).

Breaking Bad is my favourite show on television (you can catch it on Showtime and ABC2 in Australia). The central premise is this (from Wikipedia):

Set and produced in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Breaking Bad is the story of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a struggling high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with advanced lung cancer at the beginning of the series. He turns to a life of crime, producing and selling methamphetamine with a former student, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), with the aim of securing his family’s financial future before he dies.

It’s bleak. It’s dark. It’s also, for anyone with a sense of gallows humour, utterly hilarious.

BB has deservedly received widespread critical acclaim. The writing, cinematography, directing and acting are sublime. For those who haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil anything, but the personal trajectory of Walter White across the seasons (the show is about the enter it’s fifth and final season) is arguably as close-to-a-perfectly written and executed character exposition that’s been filmed for television. Ever.

BB is also a fine example of why American made-for-cable TV drama is far and away the current top purveyor of sophisticated popular entertainment. Incidentally, I suspect in this particular instance part of it’s appeal (to me, at least) is that an otherwise ‘over the top’ scenario is actually made remarkably plausible by the institutional failures in American political economy (i.e. health care system, poorly funded education, the war on drugs) that underpin the show. This aspect is probably a conversation for another day; I will, however, add that none of these institutional factors are laboured in the show, nor are the characters and their decisions playing out some kind of morality play, and that’s a very subtle form of genius at work.


Not in the mood? I had the Hay Shed Hill Margaret River 2009 Shiraz Tempranillo at my In-laws’ house over dinner with them and my wife. I picked some up a week or two later for under $15. And for that price, it’s great value. Plump and juicy with a bit of spice. Yummy.

(NB I had toyed with the idea that a blend like this could be made into sparkling wine).

90 points from Halliday, 4/5 from and an “Excellent Value. Highly Recommended” from Winewise. I concur!

Hay Shed Hill


Posted by on November 25, 2011 in Review