Thursday, February 12, 2015

Revisiting a Fond Tintara Memory

All those years ago, when I finally graduated from regularly drinking U-brew plonk to pulling the cork exclusively on estate wines, I particularly zeroed in on Aussie wines. Between the Vancouver International Wine Festival and annual Australia festival tastings, it was easy to discover a myriad of brands and wines that were tasty and well priced. One of the first brand names that I remember being introduced to as more "premium" label was a Tintara - and it was likely a Shiraz. I recall that both Dr. Dirt and I were delightfully gobsmacked. Not that we could find any to buy.

It turned out that Tintara wasn't a bottle that was readily available in the Vancouver market but, for some reason, the name continued to stand out in my mind. So much so that, when Boo and I visited Australia in 2002, I must have asked in over a dozen bottle shops if they had any Tintara. The closest I could find to anyone who knew anything about the brand was a bloke in Melbourne who thought it might have been a label that one of the producers only used for export purposes. Well, it didn't seem to be one that was regularly exported to the Vancouver market. At that time, wineries hadn't taken to the internet to the degree that they do currently and we didn't really find out anything more about it.

That all changed a couple of years ago when the Tintara brand had a bit of renaissance and I started seeing it again at tastings and on store shelves.

1860.  2003 Tintara Reserve Grenache (McLaren Vale - Australia)

I still don't know what the provenance was of that original bottle but Tintara now forms part of the Hardy's empire (which is itself part of Accolade Wines family) and, indeed, the Hardy's website says that "In 1876, our pioneering founder, Thomas Hardy purchased our Tintara winery in McLaren Vale." Tintara may well have been under the Hardy's umbrella all these years but I wouldn't have been able to tell you that.

All things considered, I may have romanticized some of that original allure I had for Tintara because this Grenache didn't knock my socks off. Granted, I remembered the name for its Shiraz but I think the brand may have been commercialized a bit more since those earlier days - if only for the reason that I do see it more on shelves nowadays and the pricing is reasonable enough that I don't think it's to be considered a "premium" brand anymore.

Now, it could have been the occasion and the vintage that had first burned itself into my memory but this Grenache was simply an easy-drinking, fruit forward sip. I don't see myself traipsing through Aussie bottle shops looking for it specifically down the road. Not to say that I'll turn down a glass should anyone want to pour me one. After all, I think there'll always be that bit of allure in the name Tintara and I look forward to finding one of their wines that rekindles those fond memories.

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