Mollydooker Carnival of Love 2014

W Love 2014Shiraz from The Gateway, McLaren Vale, Fleurieu Zone, South Australia, Australia

100% shiraz

15.5-16.5% alcohol

Purchased: 14 Feb 2014 – $100.00

Opened: 14 Feb 2018

els: 9.4/10

Wine Spectator: 95

Tasting Panel: 95

Cellar Tracker: 93

Vinous: 70

South Australia is the largest wine region, by acres of vines planted and wine produced, in Australia.  McLaren Vale, along with its northern neighbor: Barossa Valley, are the premier South Australia wine-producing regions in the country. McLaren Vale’s wine history goes back at least 175 years to the time of John Reynell and Thomas Hardy and their first grape plantings.  Todays Accolade Wines traces its beginnings back to the establishment of the Thomas Hardy and Sons winery, in 1853, in Old Reynella, now a suburb of Adelaide. With its Mediterranean climate and well drained soils, McLaren Vale is known for its superb reds with Shiraz being its star pupil, accounting for 50% of all grapes grown and processed.

Australia is the second largest producer of Shiraz or its genetic French twin, Syrah, grapes, France being the first. These are dark skinned grapes that produce wildly different flavors depending on the terroir they spring from. The cooler climate versions tend towards medium bodied wines with higher tannins producing flavors and aromas of pepper and tobacco.  In the hotter climates, such as McLaren Vale, the wine is fuller in body, softer in tannins with notes of leather and velvety chocolate. Ageing potential is 10-15 years.

In 2006 Sparky and Sarah Marquis established their own brand: Mollydooker, and opened their winery the next year just a few miles southwest of Adelaide and a hop, skip, and jump from the Gulf of St. Vincent in The Gateway sub-region of McLaren Vale. From the outset they have produced outstanding wines garnering high 90s ratings and wine of the year accolades, seemingly without effort. The winery includes 3 vineyards: Long Gully Road, Coppermine Road (Steve Earle’s Copperhead Road produced weed and whiskey),  and the Home Blocks, totaling 114 acres planted in Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

The vines are growing in ancient Snowball Earth, Pre-Cambrian to Cambrian metasediments, usually extremely weathered and kaolinized. The metasediments include various textures from siltstones to sandstones and limestones to dolostones.  The Mollydooker vineyards are situated a little over 450′ above sea level and enjoy a Mediterranean climate with growing season diurnal temperatures ranging from 55-85ºF.  Rainfall is generally less than 1.25″ per month during the growing season.

The grapes are cold fermented, below 60ºF, with final fermentation occurring in oak barrels. After fermentation the wine is racked back to tanks for oxygenation. Then back to the barrel for approximately 3 months of malolactic fermentation. The final stage is to rack the wine again into different oak barrels to age some more before finding their way into the colorfully labeled bottles. Even before leaving the cellar these are well-traveled wines.

A dark, dark purple wine with a ruby rim. A bouquet of jammy berries and plums, bursting with chocolate. A very bold wine with medium tannins and acidity.  Luscious silk and velvet on the tongue. A wonderful, lasting, spicy candy finish. A parenthetical aside on the alcohol content.  The bottle states the ABV is 16.5% while the technical sheet states 15.5%.  Either one packs a wallop.

An outstanding wine.  My wife and I had this for our Valentines’ dinner at the Helix Wine and Bites restaurant in Grand Forks, ND. We started the meal off with a terrific morsel of grilled watermelon topped with a pepper spiced shrimp followed by oysters on the half shell heaped with garlic and herbs. The entrees were a medium rare rib eye and a filet of orange roughy tightly wound in herbs and spices.  The wine supremely complemented both of these main dishes. We finished off the wine with a desert of berries and milk chocolate fondue. Actually the wine ran out before we finished the desert forcing us to top off with Bailey’s and Penfolds’ port; life is hard but we try to go along with it.

The wine with the meal was simply astounding. Drink now, but should last until 2025-2029. This is still a young wine so I strongly recommended that you decant and aerate for one hour, or more, before drinking.


Two Hands Bella’s Garden Shiraz 2013

W Bella Garden 2013Shiraz from Barossa Valley, Barossa, Australia

100% shiraz

14.5% alcohol

Opened 21 Jan 2018

els: 9.4/10

James Halliday: 95

Wine Advocate: 94

Wine Spectator: 94

Cellar Tracker: 93

German immigrants brought the wine industry to Barossa Valley in 1843 and its reputation in the wine trade has waxed and waned through the years, along with the world’s perception of Shiraz. In the late 20th century the valley once again saw its fortunes on the rise and today it rates along side McLaren Vale as South Australia’s premier wine regions.

The Two Hands winery came into existence in 1999 with the single aim of producing the best Shiraz from the best regions of Australia. By 2003 the company had put down roots in Barossa Valley and their Shiraz Garden series wines were in full bloom. The series is currently a collection of 6 Shiraz wines, each sourced from a different growing region in South Australia and Victoria.  The different region’s grapes are prepared and processed in exactly the same manner at their Barossa Estate so that the 6 separate Shirazes’ character becomes a definite reflection of their distinct terroir.

The Barossa Valley vineyards grow in a hot and dry continental climate and receive a scant 6 inches of rain during the growing season. Growing season temperatures peak in the high 80s°F during the day and dip into the low 50s°F at night. The soils tend to be clay and silt with some sand aiding in the drainage. The grapes are de-stemmed, crushed and fermented in open fermenters. After 2 weeks the wine is racked to barrels for malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged for 18 months in new and old French oak hogsheads (59-66 US gallons) and puncheons (132 US gallons).

The wine has a deep and dark purple color with a lighter purple rim. Dark fruits and berries wind their way through your nose and palate, interacting with the perfect balance of acidity and tannins to produce a long and satisfying finish.

An outstanding dinner wine.  My wife and I drank this wine over a delicious meal that started off with warm sourdough bread dipped in a mixture of salt-basil-pepper and olive oil, followed by two small, lightly spiced crab cakes, just to keep our appetites in check until the next course made its appearance. Our entrees consisted of a medium-rare filet mignon and a medium lamb loin, both served with garlic mashed potatoes and grilled, whole baby carrots.  We finished the repast with a slice of lime cheesecake topped with blueberries and unsweetened whipped cream. The Shiraz made it all simply divine and so decadent. This wine should last for many years. Decant and aerate for one hour before drinking.

$49.99-79.99 (~ $70.00 at the restaurant)


Wirra Wirra Church Block CSM 2013

W Church Block 2013Other Red Blends from McLaren Vale, Australia

50% cabernet sauvignon

37% shiraz

13% merlot

14.5% alcohol

Opened 10 Jan 2018

els: 9.2/10

Australian Wine Companion:  94

James Suckling:  92

Wine Enthusiast:  91

Wine Spectator:  90

Wilfred Wong:  90

Vinous:  89

The McLaren Vale wine region is centered around the eponymous small town populated with approximately 4000 people, located 20 miles south of Adelaide in South Australia.  The wine growing region, triangular in shape, is less than 20 miles in length and 8 miles in width, nestled between the Gulf of St. Vincent on the west-northwest and the Willunga Fault and scarp, known as the Sellicks Hills Range, along its southeastern edge. McLaren Vale grew famous with its Shiraz wines but today its 88 wineries produce world-class reds and whites; including Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Mourvedre, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc. It is not uncommon to find 100-year old vines in McLaren Vale vineyards.

The Wirra Wirra winery was established in 1969 by Greg Trott and others, out of the ruins of the 1894 winery started by a gentleman delightfully named, Robert Strangways Wigley. Greg Trott’s first Wirra Wirra labeled wine was the 1972 Church Block CSM, named after a vineyard adjacent to a small church.

The vineyards of McLaren Vale are subjected to a Mediterranean climate with dry summers and wet winters, perfect for growing red wine grapes.  Rains bring between 20 and 30 inches per year; the rains peaking in the southern hemisphere May to September winter.  Growing season temperatures range from daytime highs in the mid-80s to night time lows in the mid-50s degrees Fahrenheit. Frost and snow are almost unheard of anytime during the year.  The soils are generally well-drained, thin loamy sands with clays and clayey limes underneath.

This wine has a brilliant ruby-red hue with a narrow pink rim.  Redolent of black berries and plums. An intense taste of red fruits with lasting tannins, and a very long, balanced finish.

An outstanding red wine at a great price.  Serves well with beef and lamb. Tastes great by itself.  Tannins suggests that this wine will serve well for many years to come. A very versatile wine. Decant and aerate for one hour before drinking.


Tahbilk Shiraz 2012

W Tahbilk 2012Shiraz from Nagambie Lakes, Australia

100% shiraz

13.7% alcohol

Opened 26 Dec 2017

els: 9.0/10

Australian Wine Companion: 92

Wine and Spirits: 91

Robert Parker: 90

The Wine Front: 90

Cellar Tracker: 89

Tahbilk established itself in 1860 as the first winery in the Goulburn Valley of Central Victoria, Australia, and is one of the oldest wineries in Australia. The Daung-wurrung, a Victorian aboriginal clan, in their native language called the area tabilk-tabilk or the ‘place of many waterholes’, so named because the local Goulburn River dried up periodically and left isolated bodies of water: ‘waterholes’; in the river and along its billabongs. Reginald Purbrick purchased the winery in 1925 and 5 generations of family have been making wines there ever since.

The Shiraz vineyards encompass about 75 acres and contain vines planted between the 1930s and 2000s. The vineyards are situated less than 500 feet above sea level experiencing cool nights of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit and the days hover in the low 80s during the growing season. Rain is sufficient at about 1.5 to 2.5 inches per month. The soils are sandy.

The wine is fermented in open-topped oak barrels and aged in 100 year French oak barrels.

This is a brilliant, garnet colored wine with a pale pink rim. Aromas of red fruits and dark berries, with a hint of oak. Very nice tasting, balanced, medium bodied and smooth, with thick tannins; producing a long, dry, satisfying finish. A classy girl of a wine, reminiscent of long, perfect legs, anchored to glossy stiletto heals, and, unfortunately, partially retiring inside a white silk dress, slit long on the left thigh; the dress continuing upward along luscious curves  with a single, lonely strap across the right shoulder.

An outstanding wine. Serve with beef, lamb or wild game. Decant and aerate for one hour before drinking.


Hewitson Miss Harry G.S.M. 2013

W Miss Harry 2013Rhone Red Blends from Barossa Valley, Barossa, Australia

47% grenache

31% mourvedre

12% shiraz

7% cinsault

3% carignan

14.0% alcohol

Opened 31 Oct 2017

els 9.0/10

Australian Wine Companion  95

Wine Spectator 90

The Hewitson’s vineyards and winery are located in the heart of Australia’s famous wine-producing region, Barossa Valley, about 35 miles northeast of downtown Adelaide, along Australia’s south-central coast. The Barossa Valley, named after the low, rounded mountains of the Barossa Range, was formed by the North Para River, para meaning river in the local dialect. The river provides the vine loving soils and water to nourish the extensive vineyards in the area.

The Barossa Range is named after the British-French, 1811, Battle of Barrosa near Cadiz, Spain, where the British, outnumbered 2-1, routed the French. The different spellings are attributed to a clerical error when the names were registered from the survey records.

The Hewitson’s vineyards contain some of the oldest vines in Australia. Their Old Garden vineyard contains 8 rows of Mourvedre, planted 164 years ago in 1853. The roots of the vines reach down 30 feet into the sandy soils, keeping the plants cool and refreshed even on the hottest, driest days.

The continental climate of Barossa Valley produces summer days reaching past 100 degrees Fahrenheit with the nights dropping down into the low 50s. Rain, during the growing season, has a scanty range and output of less than 1 inch to 1.5 inches per month.

This is a clear ruby-red wine redolent of cherries and spice.  The acidity blends well with the tannins producing a delightfully smooth and balanced wine.  This wine pairs well with just about anything, marbled steaks to pasta to cheese to a solitary glass, or two, enjoyed in the shade on a hot summer day. Decant and aerate the wine for an hour or two, it will help immensely.


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