VALUES ON THE VINE
This weekend brings an opportunity to taste some of the rarest wines being produced in the fastest growing wine region of the world -- Australia. The Down by the Sea Summer Food & Wine Festival Grand Wine Tasting, a benefit for the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific, will feature a separate pavilion for wines from Down Under. Holding court in the tent will be Dan Philips, owner of the Grateful Palate, an artisan food and wine company based in California, and an authority on Australian wines.
Juicy wine values
from Down Under
"He's willing to share his latest finds," said Lyle Fujioka of event co-sponsor Fujioka's Wine Merchants.
Philips started The Grateful Palate three years ago after falling in love with the bold flavors of Australian wines, Shiraz in particular. "In the past three years, it's really taken off," he said.
Few of Philips' wines are available in Hawaii. To get a taste of them, head to the Rehab event Sunday from 1-5 p.m. at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Coral Ballroom. The Grand Wine Tasting will feature food, wine and silent and live auctions. Philips will lead an Australian wine seminar from 12:30-2 p.m. Cost: $50 in advance, $60 at the door for tasting; $95 for tasting and Australian wines seminar. For tickets, call 544-3385 or stop by Fujioka's in Market City Shopping Center.
Meanwhile, our columnists offer suggestions on Australian wines you can buy locally.
Richard FieldOwner of R. Field Wine Co.
1996 Penfolds Bin 389, $27.99: One of the most famous wines from Down Under, this wine was awarded 91 points and "Spectator Selection" honors from Wine Spectator Magazine. "Fat and flavorful, richly textured with ripe black cherry, blackberry and anise flavors, yet soft and warm with a generous sweet-supple finish."
1998 Tyrell's Longflat Shiraz, $9.99: This is a great bargain! Bright cranberry/blueberry fruit with a slight earthy spiciness is framed by sweet American Oak highlights.
Lyle FujiokaOwner of Fujioka's Wine Merchants
1998 Trevor Jones "Boots" (Riesling 50 percent, Muscat 50 percent), Australia, $12.95: Dan Phillips, the "kanguru" of Australian boutique wines, has a reputation for delivering hedonistic Shiraz. His affection for "Boots" reflects the kinder, gentler side of Dan. Intense yet delicate, the aromatics exude white flower, honey and tropical fruit. Exotically delicious and smooth, this blend has a tone of ripe fruit kept fresh on the palate with crisp acids.
1999 Lengs & Cooter "The Victor" (Shiraz 55 percent, Grenache 45 percent), Australia, $13.95: The wines Philips chooses for his import portfolio have one common thread -- ripe fruit! "The Victor" has spicy raspberries and cranberries with a dash of pepper that captivate the palate. 1999 may seem to be young but remember -- south of the equator is six months ahead of the north.
Chuck FuruyaPresident of Fine Wine Imports
For a great value you cannot go wrong with the Thomas Mitchell Marsanne ($10.49). Yes, this is the same grape we've seen in France's northern Rhone Valley, but it results in a very different wine here -- much more tropical, deliciously supple and good for afternoon sippin'.
For a trophy wine, look to the Leeuwin Estate Chardonnays ($49.89) from the much cooler Margaret River region of Western Australia. These are deep, layered, well structured wines that have been highly acclaimed seemingly since they were first introduced. Wow!
For red wines, consider the Rhone varietals produced by D'Arenberg. The Custodian ($19.99) immediately comes to mind. Rich, rustic, peppery, this wine is well worth seeking out.
Jay KamPresident of Vintage Wine Cellar
1998 Victoria's Crest Shiraz, $8.99: If it is 1998 Australian Shiraz, I tell my customers to buy it because I haven't tasted a bad one yet. In fact, all of them have been pretty impressive, as well as expensive. This well-priced bottle's flashy fruit and spice make it a natural for your summer barbeques and shows that my confidence in 1998 Australian Shiraz applies to inexpensive bottles too.
1996 Rosemount Roxburgh Chardonnay, $19.99: This isn't a $10 bargain, but it isn't $30+ either, which is the normal price for Rosemount's flagship Chardonnay. At $19.99, this is a deal. Honey, cloves, toast and nuts predominate in this rich and full wine. The finish will stick in the back of your mouth for some time. You don't need food because this is fine to drink by itself.
WildcardKimberly Case, Tamura's Fine Wine and Liquors
Kimberly Case of Tamura's in Kakaako joins us again this month with some insights about two lessor known Aussie varietals.
1998 Australian Domaine Wines, Shiraz Barossa Valley Alliance, $17.69: Perfectly balanced and big tannins from nose to finish. Scents and flavors range from chocolate to molasses, soy sauce, cedar, currant, anise, rhubarb, phenol and raspberries. An A+ wine. Pair with grilled meats or an after-dinner cigar.
1996 Four Sisters Grenache Shiraz Trevor Mast McLaren Vale, $11.39: "Wow" was my initial impression. "Unusual" would be my single word description. Perfect softness and acidity, its light to medium body blend contains cherry, berry and black pepper aromas and flavors. Finishes with a hint of vanilla. Looking for a wine to pair with pork chops and Asian meat dishes? You will not be disappointed with this wine.
Values on the Vine is published on the last Wednesday of each month. To participate as a wildcard panelist, call Stephanie Kendrick at 525-8667, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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