Jip Jip 2010 Shiraz, Australia

We’ve been meaning to explore more of what Australia has to offer with their Shiraz, which I will boldly state are their most famed wines. Argentina has been taking up most of our interest, however. The winemakers there have been making solid wines of all variety that are true and deep and rather inexpensive. Vintners from Argentina, and many other South American Countries have been quickly increasing their skill and their commitment to a wine that boasts no superfluous tactics in which to separate themselves as something unique or gifted; where antiquity meets passion is where great wine truly resides. For the frugal, or for the ones who spend their money on fresh foods over orgasmic wines, have fallen in love with such offerings, with joys unmatched in comparison with their price.

Australia is true to its fame, but hardly at our price range. Eric Asmiov recently wrote an article in the New York Times about the sweet-spot price range of wines. He concluded and concurred that twenty dollar wines are where quality both transforms and begins, takes shape and excels, over their less costly cousins. This reminded me of all the Australian wines we have had before. There was the F for Block 2006 nebbiolo that was a thirty dollar splurge, a fantastic and dark nebbiolo; and there was a Fire Block 2009 old vines shiraz for around eighteen dollars that exhibited strength, but lacked an cordial structure. There were others, but names escape me easily unless a pen and pad are near and at the ready to remember them for me. There does seem to be a great deal of truth to this twenty dollar rule, however, especially for Australia.


The intercom squawked tiredly at the store patrons about closing in some odd or so minutes as we rushed inside to pick up a few bottles for the week. The store closed precisely at seven, the burly intercom continued to blurt, and that we could only have our local government to thank for it. I suspected a cloak behind the voice; only the tired inflections of worker sick and tired of mingling with winos like myself can sound as so. After quick decisions and leap of faiths an Australian wine caught the eye of the other with me–for my head was stuck so far inside the Rhŏne aisle, quite stunned by the new selections. It was seventeen dollars, perfect for the bill (my Rhŏne decision was a twelve dollar bottle, of which we have had much luck with at the price as of late). We were escorted out of the store, now cheery in the sort of way that only future excitements can conjure, as the clerk stressed his arm muscles to prop open the clamping mouth of the electronic door.

There was fine cheese and a light bread, crusted as stone and billowy in the middle. There will never be room for doubt when utilizing this pairing combination with dark wines.


    Jip Jip 2010 Shiraz, Australia – $17

– A dark purple when poured. Like a grape juiced intermixed with some dark rum.

– The wine clamors up and through your nose like an invasion. Game, pop rocks and cranberry are present. The wines intent was clear, fruity with no subtlety.

– The punch from the nose follows through, being very fruit-forward, palatable and clean. Although it’s far too clean and as such tends to be rather thin. Some terrior comes through, exhibiting some granite. You get a sense of the winemakers philosophy: easy to drink, using a tannic flair that shiraz is most associated with, but lacking any lofty goals of credentials, despite the mélange of awards promenaded on the label, when you taste the jello-like sweetness the linger leaves behind.

Overall: Pass. It would be an agreeable wine if the price was right. But as it stands, asking seventeen dollars for a wine with the aspirations of a ten dollar equivalent is too high.


Screenwriting and Wine: Smoking Loon Pinot Noir, 2010

There was a particular scene we read involving the arousal of, and eventual, making love of two women. It was a screenplay based around a coming-to-be, polarity reversal of sexuality with a character named “Sam” in a southern, rural Utah town. A fine enough scene… a little clichéd, but I digress. You could tell that two in the class were clearly uncomfortable: one being under drinking age, the other being… a religious zealot or something of the like, it’s hard to tell these things. As for the rest of us, well, we relished in the scene, read lavishly with red faces and tee-ta-hees – yes, we were well into our inebriations. Turns out that reading bad screenplays aloud can suddenly make them fantastic or inconceivably unbearable. I suppose it depends on the mind set you go in with.

The great thing about writers is that they love their drinks. In fact, like these aforementioned screenwriting workshops I’ve attended, some of the wine selections we share are eye opening when considering their frugality. You see, writers, for the most part, especially the truly devoted (which there are a plethora of) are low on excess funds. Wine expenses take a hit. Count me as one of their fellow soldiers of insomnia inducing dreams and day dream delusions of grandeur. As such, we search far and wide for the best selections that can impress, but not dent the wallet. At this last meeting, for example, I brought along the Ruffino Chianti along to impress (read: it did). Turns out that six other individuals were wiling to impress. I only tasted my Ruffino and one other, the Smoking Loon, 2010 Pinot Noir. I would have gone a few extra rounds with the others too, but I found the script was getting quirky and particularly hilarious when, in fact, it was a serious drama full of angst and macabre. It was time to put down the juice. Looking back on my notes of the script, it’s an eclectic blend of cinematic insights, scrutinizing points of contention and tasting notes with garrulous verbiage.

Smoking Loon Pinot Noir, 2010, Sonoma Coast – $10

– Pretty damned thin. Dark, yes, but the red ink stretched across to the brim of my plastic cup.

– Strawberry. Not much else. If I were to stretch the description, I’d say it also had a character of coal and granite stone.

– Strawberry shines through again. There’s a light finish and dull mid-range. However, a pleasant sour and slight acid keep you from being bored. This wines goes down easy, but doesn’t offer any challenge. All levels are checked, nothing screaming out loud leaving little to be recalled.

Overall: Skip. There are quite a few pinots around the ten dollar range that offer up a little more taste and clarity, even if it is just more of any one thing at a time. To its credit, however, is that is not awful; some Pinot bargains can definitely be just that.

Quote of The Evening:

[Some woman, to my dismay]

Yellow Tail? You don’t like Yellow Tail? Shit, that’s my favorite brand of wine.

2009 Domaine La Garrigue, Cotes Du Rhône

It was the summer of 2011 when the first Domaine La Garrigue, Cotes du Rhône, was first opened by us. Nearly a year ago to the day, to be exact. I remember clearly, for it was when I was reintroduced to a little episode titled “The Trouble With Tribbles.” Since that fantastic, revelatory evening we have opened many bottles, trying to decode and explore its finest, brooding secrets. This also lead to the purchase of an entire case (our first case; something we thought we’d never do) and has been causing quite the clutter in our petite wine rack ever since. We love a full wine rack, though; we can’t complain about copious amounts of anything – I can’t even help revering my tall spired canister of oatmeal.

The case of this wine served two purposes: 1) we really dig the wine–being a very frugal twelve dollar wine that tastes phenomenal, and 2) the case, and a few charming bottles, served as props for the short film “The Apogee” The bottle had that bodacious, ubiquitous curvature that also sported that classic green, dirty moss tint. It was photogenic, perfect; and the prop department

Prop Bottle for the short film “The Apogee.”

took off some of the labels and replaced them with their own for the film (see side photograph). It was important to have the wine showcased in the film–a film about “the apogee of all wines”–to actually have a stellar wine on screen, handled and drunk by the lucky actors who each got their own bottles after wrapping principle photography. It felt more genuine that way.

Now, on to decoding “The Beast,” as we call it. It is so named due to its monstrous effects and disastrous decimation of basic motor function after just one bottle, split between we two reviewers. This Cotes du Rhône is only 14.5%, but something tells us this is misleading–that or we just find ourselves either far too hungry before imbibing or else we simply feel a little giggly with excitement before hand. Whatever the case may be, brace yourself; for The Beast is as potent as Hemingway con bebida: astonishingly lit and still full of wit. The wine is surprisingly effervescent, which is seen by many to be a flaw in the wine making process. We believe this to be true, yet I would have to disagree in this case; the slight fizz that dances around your tongue, embracing, caressing and galloping jauntily to your throat really helps round off, strengthen and accentuate the wine’s smooth balance. La Garrigue is also a very dark wine. So much so that it would appear that this wine may have some years on her, yet. My guess: eight or so before its eligible for a euthanasia. However you feel about dark, tannic wines, and this is the Achilles heel of this wine: it may be a tad too dry. La Garrigue has a habit of taking your mouth’s moisture reserves and keeping them for its own devious devices. What it does with it, I fear to know. That said, not so hard to take down in an hour or two’s time unlike other, harsher, tannic leviathans we’ve partaken.

Domaine La Garrigue, Cotes du Rhône 2009 – $12 – 14.5%

– Inky. Apt to stain your mouth. Some substantial sediment with every bottle we’ve had.

– Minerality is most present with some flutters of forrest floor, plum and oak. It’s not the most giving wine, redolently, but secret layers do reveal in time.

– A slight effervescence that helps, not detracts. There is a bold meatiness on the palette with dark, chert and clay undertones. Chewy, filling and bonesucking prevail at the back end; although the harshness is easy to swallow and studious. The only concern with balance is the harsh, young and idealistic tannins that should mellow with age.

Overall: Worthy. La Garrigue is twelve dollars, offers grand discoveries, will age for years to come and offers some heightened spirits and many loquacious hours.

Quote of The Evening:

“You need to mention in your quotes: Spock. He deserves to be taken as more of a sex object.”