Monday, October 22, 2007

Red, White, and Tasty All Over

If you think there is something weird about blending red and white wine, think again. As I've mentioned before on GWU$20, I love the mixture of shiraz or syrah and viognier that produces wines that have all of syrah's spiciness, but with floral aromas and a silky quality. And I'm not the only one to like wines that are red, white, and tasty all over. Gary Vaynerchuk is a big fan, too, and you can watch him tasting a few shiraz-viognier wines over at Wine Library TV.

The 2002 Maxwell Four Roads Shiraz-Grenache-Viognier was a lovely example of what makes these red-white blends so appealing. ($14.95, Chronicle Wine Cellar; between $18 and $25 from other merchants) Maxwell Vineyards is a family-owned and operated vineyard in the McLaren Vale region of Australia that was started in 1979. They are well known for being the largest producer of mead--fermented honey wine--in the Southern Hemisphere. But they make excellent grape wine, too, as this bottle proves. (picture of 2003 bottle for reference; the 2002 label does not have the grenache mentioned on the label but it is in the wine nonetheless)

When you open this wine you might be taken aback by the smell of apricots along with spicy red fruit. But you'll find that the flavors are more familiar to red wine lovers, and are based on the varietal characteristics of shiraz and grenache: blackberry, red raspberry, and peppery spice. All of these flavors are wrapped up in a silky package, with the viognier bringing not only enticing apricot aromas but a nice lift to the wine when you hold it in your mouth. The flavors weren't hugely persistent, as they are with many Australian shirazes, but the wine is so bright and lively that I found it irresistible nonetheless. Very good QPR at under $15, and even if you have to pay more I suspect you will agree. What to have with your red-white wine? Thai beef curry, a spicy beef stir-fry, or even a bowl of chili would be perfect.

I should note that some of Maxwell's Four Roads from the 2002 vintage were bottled under Stelvin closures and some under cork; my bottle was under a cork. If anyone has has the screw-top bottle, I would be interested to know if you found the viognier even more apparent in either the aromas or flavors. But under screw top or cork, I think you will really enjoy this tasty and affordable red wine from Down Under.


Anonymous said...

Oh, this is one of my favorite varietal blends, and I only seem to find it in expensive bottles! Thanks for the invaluable tip!

Dr. Debs said...

Wine Scamp, see if you can find a bottle of Black Chook. I like that even better, but can't seem to find it anywhere. It's got more pronounced aromas/flavors from the viognier.

Anonymous said...

I've become a big fan of this blend too. The cool thing is that (done properly) it depends on the season. Viognier and Syrah have to be in the winery at the same time. With Viognier typically coming in early, and Syrah late, it doesn't always happen - but when it does it can be magical!