Once in a while I just want a red wine that makes me happy. Not too much to ask, right? On a day as fantastic as today, when life explodes with good fortune after a poor week, the one thing I ask from my wine is: make me grin. The ideal red grape would, for times of celebration, reliably demonstrate a few key qualities: Delicious dark fruit, emphasizing blackberry or plum. Some notes of earth, black pepper, and mocha. From Australia – specifically, Barossa.
Fine, a variety of red grapes do this all the time: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Sangiovese… but only Shiraz has that special mix of ebullient fruit and depth of flavor that keep me coming back for another whiff, another sip. Another bottle. Another case. Etc.
Chief contender this week would be the Australian winery, Yalumba. Yalumba has been making wine in the Barossa Valley since 1849. The word in Aboriginal means “all the land around,” and these winemakers really take advantage of Australian terroir. Great value all around, with numerous blends to satisfy a variety of palates and situations, especially if those situations involve a party.
The 2010 Yalumba Shiraz/Viognier blend, 80% Shiraz and 20% Viognier, captures the essence of what I enjoy in Australia wine. Lush, fruit-forward and bright without being brassy, this juice just sways in front of you. A near-purple red in the glass, with aromas of lychee, lavender and blackberry that land like cats into velvety plum and mocha cushions. Deliciously round, showing fine tannins and a firm structure, this Shiraz maintains a silky mouthfeel leading to a medium finish, hinting at oak. Buy a bottle and drink from a mason jar; pair with T-bone or braised short ribs. $12.