I’m not a big fan of shiraz. The excessively fruity, alcoholic, inky style that is popular in the U.S. is almost undrinkable to those of us who see wine as a complement to a meal and not as an endurance contest.
That’s why, when I find a wine like the Jim Jim (about $12, available at Goody Goody, Central Market, World Market; sample), I’m always happy to write about it. It has the characteristics of shiraz that make it interesting, like its fruitiness and spice, but it doesn’t taste like it was made for a frat boy Friday night. Best yet, it’s reasonably priced from a producer that offers value. Winemaker Hugh Hamilton is a bit of a curmudgeon himself, and takes pride in doing things a little differently than the rest of his fellow Aussies. There’s a reason, he says, that his winery’s symbol is a black sheep.
Pair the Jim Jim with almost any red meat — steak frites come to mind — and duck, which I ate with the wine, will work too.
After the jump, catching up on some wine notes:
· Lake Highlands’ Camille McBee, who played a key role in the growth of the Texas wine business, has died. Camille had been ill, but her death came as a surprise to those of us who worked with her. In fact, I had seen her in August at our DrinkLocalWine.com conference, and we had talked about her doing some State Fair wine talks this year. I met Camille when I started writing about Texas wine, and she was always helpful and welcoming. She worked for many years with Dr. Bobby Smith, one of the founders of the Texas wine business, handling marketing for his La Beuna Vida winery in Grapevine. The family has requested donations be sent to the Highlander School of Dallas.
· Wine discounts are becoming more and more common, as recession-hampered retailers look to move labels that aren’t selling and to dispose of inventory before the new vintages arrrive. I have seen Murphy-Goode fume blac for $6.99, Layer Cake malbec for $12.99l and Paul Newman chardonnay for $6.99. Those are one-third to one-half off the usual prices. Also, there has been heavy case discounting, particularly at grocery stores. Kroger has offered 20 percent off for a 6 bottle purchase.
· Aldi, which is opening two stores in the area, is famous — notorious, even — for cheap wine. Five-dollar wines are the rule; the only catch is that they are almost all private label stuff that most of us haven’t heard of. And, if you can find some, you might want to try some of 7-Eleven’s $4 wine, which the chain debuted last week. I haven’t been able to find any yet to review.