Wine Blog – Hospice du Rhone, Day 1

My liver is being given a welcome break in the wireless internet lounge, enhanced by a bottle of sparkling water hijacked from the lunch table.  Spitting hardly seems sufficient to brace one’s body for the onslaught of 15%+ wines that dominate today’s tasting stages.

That said, today’s Hospice du Rhone is the 14th annual, which happens to be a magic number for any serious Cub’s fan.  LindquistAnd my baseball analogy is apt for this year’s Person of the Year – Bob Lindquist of Qupe Vineyard – who was honored at today’s lunch with his image on baseball cards, apparently because he is a life-long fan of some team from LA called the dodgers.  Some team who spoils their fans by actually winning pennants.

9:00 – 10:15 The Wines of Elderton (Allister Ashmead, Elderton Wines, John Larchet, Moderator)

Though I am not a fan of the pepper-and-jam, over-oaked, high alcohol, in-your-face Aussie Shiraz, the Elderton wines were far more interesting than I’d expected.  For once, Aussie wines as enjoyable as their people!

Elderton did justice to the Barossa Valley’s 250+ years of wine production, a history only briefly interrupted in the middle portion of the 1900’s when Barossa found sales of its fortified wines suffering painfully due to the changing winds of a British tastes, a market then favoring Claret over fortified Aussies.  In 1979, the Ashmead’s purchased a beautiful Barossa Valley estate built in the early 1900’s, and the vineyards were in such neglect that they "were thrown in" as part of the purchase price.  Wow.  Such things should happen today.  Some of my highlights from this tasting:

2004 Elderton "Friends" Shiraz
The complexity surprised me, with an earthy entry followed by crushed berries and a surprisingly elegant finish.  Still has the big jam and pepper, chocolate, plum and vanilla.  Mostly Shiraz (Aussie for "Syrah") with 5% Mataro.  Pleasant alcohol well balanced at 14%.  A nice wine in the $15 range

2004 Elderton Shiraz
Save yourself some money and buy this $30 over their more pricey $80 "Command" vineyard Shiraz, as this delivers more fun for the money.  Less oak than in previous releases (14 months instead of 24) and the wine is well served by this wise decision.

Wow, look at the time – I have to go to the 3:00 barrel tasting now.  More later…