Little Something with your Offal?
National Post Weekly Wine & Spirits Columnist
Saturday, January 24, 2004
a word borrowed from the Dutch afval in the fourteenth century, is usually associated with the less
glamorous parts of a slaughtered animal. Literally meaning ‘off fall’
it is most glamorized in the traditional Robbie Burns signature dish haggis.
This balloon sausage-like affair is a chopped up mixture of sheep’s
heart, liver and lungs with oatmeal and seasonings all stuffed into a
sheep’s stomach. It’s usually served with bashed neeps (mashed
turnips) and lots of Scotch, the latter enabling one to gather up the
strength to actually eat the stuff.
wonders whether Robbie Burns ever thought that this ‘great
chieftain o’ the pudding race’ would be served ever after to
celebrate his birthday which happens tomorrow night, January 25th. I
decided to take a pass on my planned whisky-haggis taste-off, which was
designed to find the perfect matching Scotch. For me, haggis makes almost
anything taste good. And so, it is with no apologies that I salute Burns
with a delicious warming snifter of gently sweet, herbal-honeyed,
Malt Whisky Liqueur
General List $39.75), the perfect on the rocks preprandial (perhaps with a
twist of citrus) or after-dinner sipper.
today’s Vintages releases, one sip of Nannerl
Williamsbirnen Schnaps (919381) at $39.95 for 500 ml will help
you forget that you ever tasted haggis. This Austrian pear liqueur (38%
alcohol) is clear in colour and comes in an attractive 500 ml
violin-shaped bottle celebrating its Salzburg connection. It’s sheer
music on the palate - very attractive, dry, well-balanced, slightly spicy,
honeyed, ripe pear flavours that dance on the tongue.
on to today’s whites, three impress. The hand’s down best buy hails
from the French Pays d’Oc. The fairly mature Hugh
Ryman 2001 Viognier Richemont Premium Barrel Fermented
(944819) at only $12.95 would make the most scrupulous Scot jump
for joy. On the palate it is medium-full bodied and surprisingly well
structured with dry, rather cedary, apricot, lime and Anjou pear flavours
that show excellent length. Best with poultry and white meats.
best buy is the solid, rather toasty, flavourful Bodegas
Muga 2002 ‘Muga’ Blanco (958736) $15.95. This well-made
Spanish Rioja is a barrel fermented blend of 90% Viura and 10% Malvasia,
which some might even mistake for being Chardonnay. The nose has
attractive, vanilla-directed, faintly honeyed, ripe lemon-melon fruit. It
is rather intense and very dry on the palate with baked ripe lemon and
melon flavours followed up by a lingering, peppery, cedary finish. A step
up from the preciously shipped 2001; it is still quite youthful and,
unlike the Ryman Viognier, can still evolve for another year or so.
who enjoy tropical fruit flavours will relish Viña
Caliterra 2001 Chardonnay Arboleda
(606772) $18.95. Originating in Chile’s Casablanca Valley,
the nose is somewhat spicy with ripe lemon-lime fruit. It is dry but not
austere on the palate with rounded and yet still tangy, ripe lemon fruit
along with almost sweetish, tropical fruit cocktail flavours. A versatile,
by-the-glass, crowd pleaser, which is perfect for poultry.
on to the reds, there are a quite a few best buys. As Syrah (or Shiraz as
they say in Australia and elsewhere), the best buy highlight would be the
ripe black cherry purée flavoured Barossa
Valley Estate 2001 Moculta Shiraz (536383) at $18.95. Hailing
from South Australia’s Barossa Valley, this isn’t your chucky,
idiosyncratic effort, but shows lots of refinement focusing on
accessibility and balance.
for a surprisingly juicy, ready-to-drink Syrah from Northern Rhone. While
the Saint-Joseph commune is a still relatively unknown, it can offer great
value. While many of the better efforts will be fairly extracty and smoky,
Courbis 2000 Saint-Joseph Les Royes (973719) $33.95 may strike
some as being a tad light. Nevertheless, it compensates for this by its
ample, spicy, rounded, ripe black cherry flavours. It isn’t inexpensive,
but it is delicious.
you are looking for something with more grip, check out another best buy,
this time from the Minervois region of French Pays d’Oc. Robust and
Bertrand 1999 Les Matins d’Aurore (952804) at $15.95 is the
antithesis of the previous two fruit-driven Shiraz. Extremely deep intense
purple colour, this blend of 40%
Syrah, 30% Grenache, 20% Carignan and 10% Mourvèdre spent eight months in
barrique. It has a complex, hot, earthy, prunish nose with some
spicy herbes de Provence notes. On the palate it is solid, dry and still
rather youthful with roasted plum and red pepper purée flavours followed
up by a long lingering finish. A robust effort that will still evolve
nicely over the next year or two!
2001-2002-2003 Tasting Note Database
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