Red, white and black : The Chook Shiraz/Viognier

The Chook Shiraz Viognier 2012

Region: MacLaren Vale, South Australia, Australia

Grape: Syrah / Viognier

Price: $18


As I was going through the wine list at a restaurant, my eyes got drawn to an original wine, a red and white blend, this can seem counter-intuitive until you remember that many champagne wines are a blend of white and red grapes, or that white grapes can be blended in Chateauneuf du Pape wines. Contrary to popular belief, mixing red and white will not make a rose! Here the two varieties are Shiraz and Viogner. I love Shiraz, and I love Viognier, so there are chances I will enjoy the blend.

MacLaren Vale in South Australia offers a climate similar to the Mediterranean one with the benefit of cooling breezes from the ocean. The Chook is collaboration between some producers that wanted to make bold wines from the region. They also produce a sparkling Shiraz on which I’d like to put my hands. Oh, and Chook is Australian for “chicken”

Eye: Very deep ruby, are you sure there are some white grapes in there?

Nose: Clean, medium-plus intensity. Blackberries and black pepper notes

Palate: Dry, medium-plus acidity, medium-plus body, round tannins, long finish

At first glance, this wine appears to fall more under the Shiraz than the Viognier blueprint. Dark berries and pepper with a deep ruby color is pretty Shiraz-like. I think the Viognier contributions are on the more subtle side, with the body, smoothness and acidity that help support the Shiraz aromas. I didn’t get any of the traditional Viognier notes such as peach or apricot. It is possible they were there but buried underneath pepper and berries.

Food pairings: I had it with chicken, I mean, there is a chicken on the bottle, what was I supposed to do? It would work great with grilled meat in general.

Overall opinion: I really enjoyed it. The combination of Viognier smoothness and the spicy, flavorful Shiraz made for a great combination. You get the bold Shiraz flavors but the wine remains refreshing and smooth. I will buy a couple bottles and look for the sparkling.

Grade: 7.5/10


Fruits and black pepper : Penfolds Shiraz Cabernet

Penfolds Koonuga Hills Syrah Cabernet 2011

Region: Koonuga Hills, South Australia, Australia

Grape: 77% Shiraz, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: around $12

Once again, I am lucky to date a woman who is willing to eat the results of my cooking efforts and also willing to listen to me ramble about wine while we’re having dinner. I am truly a lucky man. So, this lucky man made some lamb chops with roasted potatoes and opened up an Australian red to go with that.

A few weeks ago I drank the 100% Shiraz Koonuga Hills from Penfolds and I really enjoyed it, fruity and spicy with a nice texture, very easy to drink. I was curious about the addition of Cabernet to this wine, the logic would call for such a blend to have a little more bite and structure due to the addition of Cabernet. The wine spends a year in both American and French oak, so there should be some wood notes to identify.

Yes, I have Game of Thrones coasters...

Yes, I have Game of Thrones coasters…

Eye: Clear, dark ruby

Nose: Clean, medium minus intensity, black fruits (blackberries), spices (pepper), chocolate

Palate: dry, medium-minus body, high acidity. Aggressive tannins when just opened but they soften after 30 minutes or so. Medium length finish. Notes of blackberries, figs, olives and black pepper along with some nice tobacco flavor from the oak

The bottle definitely took a little time to open. The first few sips were pretty bad with high acidity, aggressive tannins and not much fruit. The wine felt really thin and forgettable. After 30 minutes to an hour it was another story, much more rounded, more fruit, and more body. It ended up being perfectly fine to drink after the initial scare. It’s a solid red without too strong a body but with a nice peppery kick.

Lamb chops

Food pairings: Can’t go wrong with lamb, it would work with beef and pork too.

Overall opinion: Good value for money, just give it time to open up or you’ll make a face when first tasting it

Grade : 6/10 or 3/10 right after opening

Weekend wine lineup

Another week done, another weekend coming up. This one is a little special because I will be spending my Saturday afternoon at the Boston Wine Expo. Hopefully there will be wines that stand out there and that will provide me with some blog posts material.

Coincidentally, I just received my wine study schedule in the form of these lovely bottles. Three Cabernets from various countries to try and get a better understanding of the grape and an Australian Shiraz because I like Shiraz and it’s cold in Boston.

My weekend lineup

My weekend lineup

That should keep me busy for a while and make sure the weekend goes smoothly. Not that there was any doubt about that. Have a great weekend everybody !

My winners from Wine Riot Boston

As promised, here are my four favorite wines from Wine Riot Boston. There is a little bit of everything, I tried to track the prices for each so that you can get an idea of the kind of wines there were at the event.

Douglas Green Rib Shack Red, Western Cape, South Africa

A blend of Shiraz and Pinotage (a South African variety known for its smoky flavor) that would be great with any red meat. Spice notes from the Shiraz, smoke notes from the Pinotage and a retail price around $11 make for a great value wine.

Rib Shack

Henkell Trocken Sekt, Germany

A German sparkling wine, Sekt means sparkling wine and Trocken means dry. A very good and fruitier alternative to Champagne for under $10. It was available at the “Bubbly Bar” along with Cava, Prosecco, Cremant and of course Champagne.

henkell trocken

90 + Cellars Lot 90 Rosso Toscana, Tuscany, Italy

This wine merchant has an interesting concept. They buy wine from premium wineries around the world, bottle and label them and sell them under their name, without naming the original winery. You trade knowing the actual wine maker for an arguably better price. Their Tuscan Red in any case is like drinking velvet. A bottle retails for $29 instead of $65 at the original winery.

Lot 90

Columbia Crest Grand Estate Chardonnay, Washington State, USA

A nice, clean, refreshing unoaked Chardonnay at $12. Not much to say about it except that it was one of the first wines I tried all night and I still remembered it as being good at the end, it must count for something !

GE Chardonnay

In other news, I took my Intermediate wine exam yesterday, it was a lot harder than I expected. The more you learn, the more you realize there is to learn. I still think I’ll get a passing grade but I need to step it up.