By The Glass
Parting spurs such sweet new offerings
IT WAS a sad day for wine lovers when winemakers Sparky and Sarah Marquis and importer Dan Phillips severed ties.
Their partnership -- Marquis Phillips -- was one of the most amazing success stories out of Australia, churning out rich, opulent, wonderfully supple wines in several price ranges.
It certainly is a relief to learn that some good came from the parting. It seems the partners have created some spectacular new projects of their own.
Sparky and Sarah launched their own label, Mollydooker, which includes six wines, each one dramatic. They caught on across the world like a raging wildfire with gusting winds to fuel it along.
It helped that wine critics embraced this new venture, awarding scores from 89 to 99 points out of 100. During the Christmas shopping season I was getting calls daily asking if I knew where to get these wines. It was like a feeding frenzy of sharks!
The wines remain difficult to find. Your best bet is to check in with a wine specialty shop.
PHILLIPS is launching several new projects as well. Partnering with another Australian winemaking superstar, Chris Ringland, he has launched "R" Winery, the Pillar Box and Three Rings (which includes grape grower/partner Dave Hickinbotham).
"R" Winery's first release, named "Bitch," is a fruit-driven, well-rounded grenache-based red wine. I have heard from more than one retailer how they sell cases upon cases already.
"R" Winery has two new wines, the 2005 Evil Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2005 Pure Evil Chardonnay. Lighter in body and deliciously simple, these two wines already are hotter than hot on the mainland. I am sure that, at less than $9, these two new phenoms soon will be easy to find at local wine stores.
Similar comments can be made for both Pillar Box ($14) and 3 Rings ($18) wines. It is safe to say there will be another, though smaller, "shark frenzy" for these two.
It is amazing how quickly word of these wines has spread. As you know, uku-gazillion wineries and wine brands are spending tons of money to brand their labels and carve out a market niche. Then along comes a project named "R," with no Web site and no advertising -- doing gangbusters straight out of the gate.
BACK to the Marquis Phillips wines, now under the watchful eye of megatalent Chris Ringland: The 2005s are also wines you should try. The 2005 Shiraz (roughly $15), for instance, is certainly spot-on -- rich, deeply flavored, gorgeous and a great value.
Chuck Furuya is a master sommelier, a partner in the Sansei restaurants and a consultant to Southern Wine and Spirits.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org