Wednesday, January 26, 2011

An Australia Day Conundrum

We had nothing but gorgeous sun on this Australia Day - despite the fact that we're really still in the middle of winter. Granted there were no Aussies in sight of our Vancouver household but that doesn't stop us from flying an Aussie flag and opening a bottle of wine from Down Under to celebrate. There may not have been any footy on the TV and no Merlot Boy not to drink Merlot with, but Boo and I had a nice long toast to our friends and all things Antipodean just for the heck of it.

I grabbed a bottle of wine that's been in the wine rack for some time now and, to be honest, I have no idea how we came about it and it's not a wine that we've had before. I can't recall whether I ran across it at a tasting or at the Playhouse Wine Festival or I grabbed it just because I saw it in a bottle shop and didn't recognize it at all.

Even after having finished it off in quick order, I don't know much more than when I started - except that both Boo and I quite enjoyed it.

713. 2002 Barletta Shiraz (Clare Valley - Australia)

I generally start most of my internet searches for Australian wines on James Halliday's website Australian Wine Companion. I didn't see any mention of Barletta on the site. I didn't do a whole lot better just doing a regular search either. I'm not so sure that the winery still exists. I did find a reference to brothers Ben and Mario Barletta who are Adelaide retailers and there are references to wines from the early 2000's that were being produced occasionally as boutique winery affair in the Clare Valley. From what little I saw, however, it appeared to be more of a garagiste operation - where they purchased grapes and made the wine with the assistance of another winery.

That assistance appeared to be in the form of a relationship with winemaker Neil Pike who operates Pikes with his brother Andrew. It looks like there is still a partnership happening between the two sets of brothers in the form of the small Gaelic Cemetery Wines. The operation is limited to a single vineyard and to the production of approximately 500 cases of a premium Shiraz.

I don't know if this Barletta Shiraz is the pre-cursor of Gaelic Cemetery but I'd sure like to find some more or something just like it. The wine harkened back to the big, full bodied Shiraz wines that are dark, concentrated and fruit forward that helped make Australia's advance into the world's wine markets. There's no mistaking this for a "critter wine" though. Since I don't remember where we got it from, I rather doubt that it goes for the price of a critter wine either.

It looks like I might never know though. However, if this is the only bottle of Barletta I'm ever going to run across, I'm glad we did and that it made it to The List.

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