Thursday, March 29, 2007

Oz Meet Mosel Mogel

Wait a minute. A Down Under winemaker showing off a bottle of German Riesling and a Mosel Mogul with big, fat Aussie Cab in hand? In the gregarious spirit of Old World meets New, award-winning winemakers Stuart Blackwell (left) and Ernst Loosen (right) swap bottles to give us journalistic types a stellar photo op.

The event was an LCB tasting of Dr L Riesling from Dr Loosen Vineyards and two offerings from Australia’s Barossa – Gamekeeper’s Reserve and Faith Shiraz by St Hallett Wines. Food and laughter flowed freely, and it was soon apparent the two are actually good chums – or should that be mates?

Most of us began with the Dr L Riesling, a delicate and fruity example of why many wine aficionados consider this grape a much under-rated King of the Vines. Ernst punctuated his commentary with witty, often charmingly irreverent anecdotes about the history of Mosel wines, the intervention of the Catholic Church in winemaking during the Middle Ages, and how, on a recent sales trip to India, people were astonished to learn there are just 500 residents in the village by his vineyard – “why, that’s how many we have in our corner yard.”

Starting with a cheery “G’day,” Stuart took us on a quick tour of the vineyard courtesy of PowerPoint. Because Barossa has never been plagued by Phylloxera, many of the local vines boast pedigrees going back more than a century. To prove it,Stuart produced a shot of a 126-year-old-vine with a “really big, beautiful butt” that's still producing enviable quantities of grapes year after year. Whoa – that’s one big mama of a vine.

The Gamekeeper’s Reserve – a blend of Shiraz, Grenache, and just a touch of Touriga Nacional for a hint of rose petals – is a steal at $14. Sure it’s a perfect pizza wine, but all agreed it had plenty of robustness to carry off a heartier barbeque pairing as well. Still, my favourite of the three had to be the Faith Shiraz – okay, so Frank could have predicted that. It slid across my tongue, rich and creamy, lingering like a satin bathrobe on a model’s shoulders. And yes, if Frank can ever get the lipstick off the Riedel, there’s now a bottle in the wine cellar for a second, at home sampling.

PS: A big Thank You! goes to Jodi Rogers, product knowledge and event coordinator from the Cambie Street LCB store, for allowing us to use her cheeky photo of Stuart Blackwell and Ernst Loosen.

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